Filmed in 2001 and released in 2002, Dog Soldiers is the film that put director Neil Marshall (Centurion, The Descent) on the map for movie fans. This is a proper old school horror that not only takes inspiration from other werewolf films, but borrows heavily from the setup and symbolism of slasher flicks as well. It’s filled with blood, gore, gallows humour and a plethora of nods, winks and references to other films ranging from Aliens to The Matrix.
Dog Soldiers tells the story of a group of British soldiers, sent into the wilds on a training exercise. They’re led by Sgt Wells (Sean Pertwee), who is assisted by Pvt Cooper (Kevin McKidd). What starts out as a seemingly dull weekend slogging through the woods instead of watching the football world cup swiftly devolves into something altogether… hairier? The squad comes across the sole survivor of the special forces unit they’re meant to be mock-engaging, the wounded Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham), and are forced to retreat through the woods with him, pursued by shadowy, dangerous assailants that seem strangely untroubled by the bullets flying their way…
First off, this film looks great. No complaints at all about the picture, with the 4K version presented in Dolby Vision HDR for those with the kit to take advantage of it. While a couple of the VFX shots are still a bit ropey, there’s a noticeable improvement over the previous version. There’s fairly heavy film grain, as befits a gritty horror film like this. You wouldn’t want it too clean. It would detract from things and ruin that grimy, almost grindhouse atmosphere. Despite the grain, the picture is sharp and clear to the point you can even see the weave in the character’s jackets and every individual hair of stubble on their faces.
There are three different versions on offer here. The regular Blu-ray and 4K versions, and a Limited Edition which has both included in one of Second Sight’s lovely slipcases. This version comes complete with a new book filled with essays and behind-the-scenes details, along with the obligatory selection of art cards.
The special features are, as we’ve come to expect from Second Sight, fairly comprehensive, and there’s more than enough on offer to sate the appetites of even the hungriest Dog Soldiers fan. There are no less than three different audio commentaries on offer: one with Neil Marshall, another with the producers David E. Allen and Brian O’Toole, and one with writer and academic Alison Peirse. There are also interviews, a making-of documentary, Neil Marshall’s short film Combat, a selection of deleted scenes, and a gag reel with optional commentary from the director.
Slightly dated effects aside, this new 4K restoration is probably the closest we will ever get to a definitive version of this film and it’s been a delight to go back and visit it again. This new restoration comes with a solid array of special features, and honestly, even 20 years later, Dog Soldiers is still a bloody great film. This version is definitely worth picking up, even if you’ve already purchased it digitally. Honestly, it’s worth it for the special features alone.