Dog Soldiers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the British

Time for an embarrassing confession (and really, what is a blog for if not oversharing?). I’m not proud of this, and I realize how silly and stupid I’m going to sound but…

I’m a sucker for the British.

Specifically, I’m a sucker for the way they talk. Yeah, I know there are probably different dialects within the country and my above statement is offensive in some obscure way and blah blah blah…

I love the way they talk, okay? There. I said it. And if you don’t like it, well, keep reading anyway.

Now let’s talk about one of my favorite horror movies of all time:

Testosterone on Celluloid

I saw Dog Soldiers several years ago and just loved it. The old-school special effects, the camaraderie among the soldiers, the awesome balance of laughter and chills, all of it. I just ate it up.

Then, in the years since, I began to worry. Was a goodly portion of my love for the film derived from the accents of the characters? Could I, I asked myself, have been that shallow? We all know our tastes change as we get older. Perhaps, I worried, I’d just been an idiot at the time and really didn’t love the movie at all.

So I rewatched it last month. And loved it even more the second time.

Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd

I won’t spoil the film for those of you who haven’t seen it, nor do I want to diminish the story’s little pleasures. I will, however, share a couple specifics about one brilliant sequence very late in the movie:

Three soldiers are in peril. Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee, who needs to be knighted, or at the very least, given a great many more starring roles—come on, Brits! Pony up!), Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd), and Spoon (Darren Morfitt) all find themselves trapped in an old house that happens to be surrounded by bloodthirsty werewolves roughly the size of Wilt Chamberlain (though I’m not sure of their rebounding abilities or feelings about casual sex). The sequence works first and foremost because director Neil Marshall (who also wrote the script, edited the film, and if I’m not mistaken, gave the actors piggyback rides when they needed to use the loo) understands that characterization trumps all. If we care about the characters, if we’re invested in their fates, we’ll go along for the ride.

And what a ride it is. Utilizing perfectly timed cross-cutting, editor Neil Marshall shoots us upstairs where Private Cooper (the film’s protagonist and co-star of the cult classic Trainspotting) is in the bathroom trying to help his best mate Sergeant Wells survive a serious werewolf attack. The problem is, Wells is sitting on a toilet (armed only with an aerosol can and a lighter) and struggling to hold off a ravenous werewolf. Private Cooper can’t quite reach his friend to save him. By intercutting these two bathroom besieged warriors, the already palpable tension becomes unbearable. Director Neil Marshall uses these confined spaces to his advantage. We feel the wolves closing in on our heroes. We know that time is growing short. And because writer Neil Marshall took the time to help us identify with these men, we actually care whether they live or die.

Neil Marshall in between Piggyback Rides

Then we plunge downstairs, where Spoon (a spunky, profane scrapper—with a British accent no less) is boxing (yep) a werewolf approximately four feet taller than he is. This fight is balls-to-the-wall mayhem and oddly realistic. Wouldn’t you, like Spoon, use everything at your disposal to stay alive?

Knife? Check. Frying pans? Check. Fine porcelain plates? Check. Fists that would whip Mike Tyson and his tattoo? Check.

Don't Mess with THIS Utensil

Although I won’t tell you how the fight comes out, I will tell you that both combatants mete out and receive more punishment than most men and lycanthropes experience in a dozen lifetimes.

And This Is Only Round One...

That’s all I’ll say. Go rent or buy Dog Soldiers. It’s a horror movie and an action flick and a war film and a comedy.

And I haven’t even mentioned the intestines!

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3 thoughts on “Dog Soldiers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the British

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