Recap #282: Dog Soldiers (2002)
Summary: Sergeant Harry Wells leads a team of British soldiers on a routine expedition to the Scottish Highlands. The six men would rather be at home watching a game, but they are even more dismayed when a carcass lands on their campfire. The next morning, they happen upon a severely injured Captain Richard Ryan and the bloody remains of his squadron.
Or the shorter version: A team of British soldiers encounter a vicious monster in this modern werewolf gem. [bat: Ooo! Snark at the Moon is going international this year!]
Okay, I love that second one. Love it.
Shudder tells me that this is from the director who did The Descent, which is one of my favourite movies. I know I watched this one first, mostly because The Descent didn’t come out until 2005, but I never knew they were by the same director. Unlike a lot of the other recappers, I am not a font of knowledge about directors and actors and authors, etc., so I’m always surprised when something ties to something else I love.
Werewolves. It’s going to be a good time tonight.
Which I desperately need, and you probably do, too. 2020 has been a hell of a year. At least October has both the Harvest Moon and a blue moon on Halloween.
And, you know, horror movies and werewolves. All of the werewolves.
Happy Harvest Moon and happy year four of Snark at the Moon.
[bat: Hi, all! Yeah, I know, you didn’t get my half of Snark at the Moon last year. Grieving the death of your grandmother will put a dent in recapping things. I promise, though, I will have my installment up for 2020! Beyond that, I have only ever heard of Dog Soldiers because of Wing. I’ve never seen it. Is that remotely shocking, because what I haven’t seen is a long list. Never seen The Descent, either. Well, let’s get this blue moon Halloween party started with some snarking!]
We open in Scotland, a nice relaxing camping trip between a super cute little couple. They’re celebrating some work thing, and she gives him a solid silver letter opener shaped like a sword because no knight should be without his sword. I find them super cute.
So of course they are not long for this world. [bat: That’s what happens when you get all idyllic and cute in a horror movie.] This has one of my favourite transition scenes; they’re making out and he starts to unzip her trousers, but the sound of the zipper is much, much louder than it should be —
— because something is unzipping the tent from the outside. Creepy as fucking hell, that. [bat: Whoa, one of the best transitions ever!]
There’s panting and low snarling and, of course, werewolf. WEREWOLF. The werewolf drags her out first, tears her apart, splattering him with blood, and while his hand creeps toward the silver knife thing, we hear (but have not yet seen) the werewolf come back for him. [bat: This is very Greg and Shelley to me, which is awesome, because that’s how you set a horror movie without giving away the “monster”.] [Wing: Oooh, yeah, that’s a good comparison.] Cut to howling at the full moon and then title screen.
Two hours earlier, in North Wales (and for once I don’t mind this storytelling choice. I generally hate when you start in the middle of some sort of action and then get dragged back in time to see what really happened, but I like it here), we have a man running through the wilderness and being hunted by people with dogs and guns. (So, soldiers then.)
He manages to take out one of them in fisticuffs and then another with a flashlight he stole from the first one, but then he gets captured. He’s evaded them for 22 hours and 47 minutes, which is pretty damn good and means Private Cooper is apparently the best in his class. [bat: Wait, hold up, that’s Kevin McKidd, aka Tommy Mackenzie from Trainspotting!]
The leader/instructor dude [bat: ZOMG! It’s the Onion Knight himself, Liam Cunningham! This film just got way better instantly!] [Wing: Note from the future, I now know who the fuck the Onion Knight is, thanks to more fandom osmosis!] tells him that survival isn’t really about running and hiding, though, which is what Cooper has been doing. It’s about finding a way to make sure your enemy can’t hunt you down. Gee, I wonder if that will become important at any time during this werewolf movie. Surely not. [bat: Nope. Never. Not one ounce of pointless foreshadowing for fun and profit here!]
Super cute doggy, and then instructor dude tells Cooper to shoot the dog. What the ever loving fuck, instructor dude. [bat: WAIT NO SHOOTING DOGGOS I DIDN’T SIGN ON FOR DOGGOS BEING SHOT!] I hope a werewolf eats your balls first and then tears off your face. Both while you’re still alive.
Cooper refuses to do it even though this is all a test to see if he’ll make the instructor’s team and becomes my favourite. And then instructor shoots the dog in the fucking head and I hate him forever. SOMEONE EAT HIS DICK AND BALLS AND THEN HIS FACE IMMEDIATELY PLEASE AND THANK YOU. [bat: BAD FORM, SER DAVOS, BAD FORM!]
Cooper gets beat up some by instructor dude (who I’ve just realised is probably Captain Ryan) who then orders him back to his actual squad.
We then jump 4 weeks ahead and to the Highlands of Scotland (I’m 100% using their location names because I find them delightfully dramatic). (Also, closed captioning says “intense music” during this transition, which is also wonderful.)
There is snow in the highlands! I don’t think I knew Scotland got snow. Beautiful scenery, but snow. Ugh. So much hate. [bat: Yes, it snows in the Scottish Highlands, so that places the time frame for this story between November to April. In reality, they ended up filming entirely in Luxembourg, and the snow affected shooting and caused delays. Go figure.]
Anyway, helicopter ride into the highlands, and the army is there to secure everything. I’m going to guess this is more training, mostly because they have bright yellow things on the ends of their guns, which seems counterintuitive to actual maneuvers. There’s also a lot of jerky camera work. It wasn’t enough to trigger my vertigo, but it wasn’t fun, either. I can’t remember how much this movie has. I hope not much.
The sound work around the guns is great (and I love the sound of the guns being moved around, the clicks and clacks), but for some reason Sergeant Wells’ voice is crackly. I didn’t have this problem earlier. (While I own this movie, I’m watching it on Shudder on my laptop for ease of moving back a few seconds to catch something I’ve missed.) [Wing: Note from the future, it cleared up pretty fast. Might have been a blip in my connection.]
Anyway, we have Cooper again! Thank you for not killing the doggo, Cooper. I hope you survive this damn movie. (I honestly don’t remember if anyone survives, much less who it would be. There are a couple scenes I remember clearly, and one thing in particular that I figured out real damn quick the first time I watched it, but not the actual survival rate.)
We get a bunch of names thrown at us, but I’m not going to grab them all right now, except Witherspoon (Spoon) who forgot his watch and apparently does this kind of stuff at the same time. Sarge gives Spoon his own watch instead, already setting himself up as the better leader than, you know, THE DOGGO KILLER. [bat: I was trying to remember where I’d seen Sean Pertwee before but they were all bit parts. The answer most people will know is his portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth on Gotham.]
They talk about the football game they’re missing [bat: FULL-ON FOOTIE WAR!], and then they’re reminded they’re up against special forces during this training and so they really need to get their shit together.
The setup: they are 50k behind enemy lines and they are to escape. If they make contact, they fight everyone as hard as they can.
Cooper puts together a decent plan to get through, and we see that he carries a lucky rabbit’s foot around. Sarge gives him a pep talk about not being chosen for special forces; for one thing, this team would be a lot worse off without him. And they do all come across as a solid, if awkward, team, giving each other shit but also having each other’s backs.
I’m sure that will all go to pieces soon (werewolves), but I like it here, and I’ll like it when it falls apart.
I’m not even going to count all the fucking misogyny, though. It’s there, almost all the insults are comparing them to girls, now we’ve gotten that bullshit out of the way.
Lots of dramatic hiking through trees and fields and past wooly cows(?) with long horns. [bat: Literally Highland cattle. Yeah, it’s a breed.] During a rest, Cooper tells them that there’s stories about the area, that people disappear, and talks about the young couple who set up camp somewhere near where they are now, disappeared one night. Awww, cute couple, you’ve become an urban legend already.
Mountain rescue team found the tent ripped to shreds and blood everywhere. News said it was some sort of monster like the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Which apparently is a real legend about a big panther-like cat. Where’s the horror movie about that? I want to watch it immediately!
Oh, apparently there is at least one independent film about it.
Other locals blamed an escaped lunatic, because of course we needed some crazy = dangerous bullshit.
(Oh, and a Chrome update followed by a computer restart fixed whatever had gone wrong with the audio.)
Oh, look, Doggo Killer has spotted them. He tells his guys that the flock is heading for the fold, because why not drama it up around here. [bat: Well, it is a SAS training simulation…]
The good guys chill around the fire that night talking about what scares them. Spoon’s is castration, the only one that seems like it might come into play. Though Cooper is afraid of spiders, women, and spider women. I love you, Cooper.
Sarge is terrified of never seeing his wife again, which means he’s going to fucking die. Ugh, I like Sarge. I mean, yes, I get it, horror movie, people are supposed to die, but I like him. He tells a heartbreaking and gross story about one of the guys deployed to Kuwait with him got blown to pieces. Saaaaarge. Stop. You’ve already put a target on yourself. Stoooooooop.
The point of all of this is that it taught Sarge to keep an open mind. So, Sarge, are you going to be the first one to believe in werewolves? Because that will make you just all the more delightful.
They drink to Eddie (the dead guy from his story) and then things go to awkward jokes, which is interrupted by a jump scare of a dead cow thrown into the middle of their camp. Some of them shoot at it, even though they only have blanks. [bat: Effective, Terry, real effective. Terry is the one who spooks easily. Pointless foreshadowing, yadda yadda.] [Wing: Note from the future: I find it impossible to tell most of the guys apart, so this will not help me at all as pointless foreshadowing.]
Cooper examines it and finds that it wasn’t shot, there are teeth marks instead of bullet holes. Sarge refuses to let them break radio silence and fail their training. Instead he sets sentries and says they’ll reassess in the morning.
Of course we go to a beautiful (almost) full moon (the very edge is not quite lit up yet), and again to a delightfully creepy scene with night vision binoculars, a beating heart, and a little bit of grayed werewolf vision point of you.
The werewolf POV running through the forest (with deep panting) was less shaky than them climbing out of the helicopter, which sure is a choice. A choice I approve of here, but that just means the helicopter one was ridiculously shaky.
And then off screen dude with the binoculars is attacked and blood splatters. Honestly, most of these white dudes all look alike to me, but that was maybe Doggo Killer? Or maybe just one of the guys on his team? Doggo Killer shows up later, so either it wasn’t him or this is a real unsubtle way of telling us he’s a werewolf now. [bat: It was Doggo Killer who was attacked. So I would put money on him surviving and being turned.]
The next morning, Sarge’s group checks out where the dead cow might have come from, and it’s slightly possible it was wounded, stumbled off the edge of the hill, and landed in their camp. Sort of possible. I’d still say impossible, but what do I know.
Sarge is really curious about this whole dead cow thing, and that makes me like him even more. (Though it also makes him all the more likely to die a terrible werewolf death.)
He finds fur on broken tree branches and keeps leading the men on the hunt. What exactly does he think he’s going to do if he finds whatever is killing animals? They have no real weapons! Well, maybe knives, but they have no bullets! They are shooting blanks! Why doesn’t he, at least, have real ammo? What if something went wrong? [bat: Also, totally deviating from the objective of the training session.] [Wing: To be fair, the whole carcass being thrown into the middle of their camp was a pretty big surprise and not one that makes a lot of sense in a training session, so things have already gone weird.]
(Okay, okay, I know, no one is going to prep for werewolves, but surely there are other predators in the area. Right? Though maybe not big enough to hurt a grown human. Actually, a quick search shows they may have reintroduced wolves into Scotland but otherwise, no, there really aren’t any predators large enough to be a threat to humans. I can’t decide if that makes horror stories set there more or less creepy.)
They find bloody pieces of some dead thing, which is enough for Sarge to decide it wasn’t natural causes. (And we learn he does have a knife.)
Then they see a flare go off in the distance, and they make their way over through some really beautiful rocky formations and tall trees. They find a destroyed camp absolutely dripping with blood and gore and also stocked with some real weapons. [bat: How do you NOT know you’re standing in entrails?!]
They ditch their fake weapons, arm up, and get ready to go after actual live enemy combatants.
So if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to tin the bitch.
I love how spot on he is here, ridiculously, and also now I want Little Red Riding Hood with a goddamn bazooka. [bat: Have you ever watched Hoodwinked, Wing? LRRH doesn’t have a bazooka, but I feel like you’d still enjoy it.] [Wing: I have! And I loved it. I’ll have to recap it some time.]
Apparently no one in the camp got off a single round, but if they lost, where are the bodies? Before they can call it in, up pops Doggo Killer who has bloody claw marks down his front and a wound on his head.
So. Werewolf. He’ll be turning into a werewolf soon. [bat: Not surprised!]
They can’t get anyone on their radio and when they find the special forces radio, it’s fried. Doggo Killer babbles about how they need to get out of there, there was only supposed to be one. Everyone seems to ignore that bit of important information, though, because WHAT THE FUCK.
This isn’t the special forces team Sarge’s group was going up against, though. This one is unmarked and carrying all sorts of strange things, including nets and tranquilizer dots.
Y’all, I forgot they were trying to capture the goddamn werewolf! This may put a new spin on the things I do remember. I’m so glad I’m recapping this movie. [bat: When he said, a couple of scenes ago, the flock was headed back to the fold, I kind of wondered if that was a red herring. Knowing there’s virtually thousands of sheep in Scotland, it was probably meant literally, since that’s what a wolf would hunt. How intriguing.] [Wing: Right? They are definitely the sheep luring the werewolf, and I love, love, love it. (It also makes me think that line in Cabin in the Woods might have been inspired by this, possibly subconsciously.)]
FINALLY someone actually pays attention to Doggo Killer talking about how there was only supposed to be one, and he then says there are many, they tore his men to pieces right in front of him, etc. They think he’s raving because he’s going to die of hypothermia and blood loss if they don’t help him soon. [bat: Yes,
About half an hour before dark they settle in, trying to fix the broken radio, setting watch, and they find a transmitter inside one of the radios, possibly their own, not something that was actually a part of the radio, and the guys decide the challenge was fixed so they couldn’t possibly win. (This is why I think their radio might have been fried, too, or maybe theirs is fried and the other one destroyed. I’m not clear on that, but I’m enjoying myself too much to double check. Maybe bat will have caught it.)
[bat: Oh dear, I have theories. Clearly, Doggo Killer set off the flare; he’s the “only” survivor. Setting off a flare implies he doesn’t have a working radio OR (my guess) the SAS team was sent in without communications due to the nature of the mission. I also wonder if he set off the flare not just to find help but signal… things in the woods. Makes sense, he’s almost bait-like, being the sole survivor. Having watched the scene twice, Bruce goes for his own communications gear and gives codes that are for his team to broadcast for an emergency, not SAS codes. Whatever “bug” they find in their own gear tells me they’re being setup… Sarge told them they weren’t allowed to break radio silence over the dead steer, so clearly the chip or bug or whatever was designed to disable the radio as soon as it was used, which is why Bruce is all mad when they question him why the gear failed. I guess we’ll find out as the movie progresses. Oh, and as Cooper points out, the SAS are only wearing dog tags, no other forms of identification, so that lends credibility to my “no communications gear” theory. Until that dumbass Terry holds up their radio, ugh. BUT looking at it it’s been beaten to a pulp so either the werewolves did it or Doggo Killer disabled it ON PURPOSE.]
They continue to collect useful things, weapons, ammo, magnesium flares. Doggo Killer says they won’t die [bat: Doggo Killer means the werewolves won’t die. Humans are very expendable.] [Wing: Oh, yeah, I wasn’t very clear there, was I. I also meant the werewolves.] and tells them to run before they tear their legs out from under them. Sarge tells him to shut the fuck up and stop scaring his lads, and then we hear snarling and howling and shouting and here. we. go.
They go racing into the trees, setting up rear guard and point and someone to help Doggo Killer even though they really should just leave him to die. Lots of running and beautiful creepy setting and trees super close as they run. [bat: This looks kind of like an overgrown abandoned Xmas tree farm to me, but I hail from the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve seen a lot of Xmas tree farms in my lifetime.]
Rear guard sets up covering them and all is quiet but for the wind moving the trees until, hark, a howl begins. Still we see nothing and poor rear guard is nearly in tears. He sees movement, his gun jam no matter how many times he changes his ammo. He frantically flees, there’s lots of shaky cam, and then he impales himself on a fucking branch. Good god, man.
AND THEN SNARL AND BLOOD SPATTER AND GONE. [bat: Bye, bye, dumbass.]
Sarge does some spinning in circles looking to see where the noise came from and eventually he finds blood on the ground. A werewolf comes leaping out of the trees at him, and we get our first look, though it is brief. They stand on two legs, furred, fast moving, and heavily clawed. [bat: Upon freeze-framing, I get more “dog” than “wolf” but I’ll reserve full judgement until we see one for longer than a brief flash.]
Sarge does some scrambling and rolling, shoots the werewolf quite a bit, and stumbles over rear guard’s body (Bruce’s body). Then he’s disemboweled and the werewolf comes for him until Cooper shows up, shoots him until he goes away, yelping.
Sarge tells him to run, he’s been bitten, the werewolf comes back but they both shoot him until he goes away. Cooper refuses to leave Sarge, because Cooper is a goddamn badass. He fucking shoves Sarge’s guts back into his fucking body (“they won’t fit!” Sarge cries, but they do, and also delightfully disgusting) and run to join the rest of the men.
We get more gray (or kind of sepia, depending on the screen, I’ve been watching on a couple at this point) viewpoint from a hunting werewolf and some shots of at least one chasing the men through the trees.
There’s lots of running and shooting and heavy breathing and helping each other and god, these men are kind of great.
We never get a really clear look at the werewolves, just more silhouettes and they kind of look like they have manes, which is fun.
The men see a truck barreling down a gravel road and manage to stop it (by one of them throwing himself into the road in front of it; he’s nearly run over, but I guess when you’re running away from fucking werewolves, that’s worth the risk, and I love him for it). The driver is a woman who orders them into the truck (that might be more of a Jeep, actually; it’s got a covered bed at the very least and sort of looks like a hybrid between the two). [bat: It’s decidedly UK military whatever it is. Almost like a Hummer but more truck.]
They get inside just before the werewolves leap onto the top of the truck and smear their muzzles against the windows. One punches in through the roof (which has sunroofs on it), and one of the guys puts his fucking knife through its arm. [bat: Which immediately means the werewolf can’t withdraw its arm because the knife hinders it, great idea, guys!] (During all of this, the truck is stuck in mud, but they finally get free.)
They take stock of what’s going on: Sarge is gutted (literally) and bitten, Bruce is dead, and Doggo Killer is still all torn up.
Woman has been looking for them, apparently, and had just about given up hope of finding them. She heard gunfire last night and knew someone was out there and would be in trouble soon if they weren’t already. [bat: I HAVE QUESTIONS.] [Wing: I HAVE ANSWERS. (No, I don’t, not really.)]
She says there’s one farm nearby, owned by a friend of hers, and she takes them there so they can bind Sarge’s wounds. Doggo Killer continues to look all shifty. I supposed I’d best stop calling him Doggo Killer because every time I do, I get distracted by my rage over him being a doggo killer. [bat: He is the Captain, but I keep calling him Davos in my head.]
The farmhouse is big, multiple floors, lots of windows, and it’s kind of cool and creepy at the same time, though, of course, some of that creepiness might stem from the fact it is in the dark of night under the full moon in a werewolf movie.
No one is home at the farmhouse, and she says she doesn’t know where they could be, but the men don’t really care about that. They very carefully clear the house, and they aren’t terrible at it, considering how young and inexperienced they’ve been previously.
(We don’t know it yet, but the woman’s name is Megan. Also: she’s gorgeous.)
There’s a fire burning and lights on, but no one inside. Lots of things like deer horns on the wall, and some more ridiculous and delightful dialog (“Little pigs, little pigs, we’ve come to nick your video” because why not make all the big bad wolf references. All of them. This movie gets me.)
There’s even plates and bread on the kitchen table and soup bubbling on the stove, but no people. [bat: Megan has literally brought them to the three Bears’ house.] [Wing: Damn, this is the best, bloodiest Three Bears retelling I’ve ever seen.] They hear a noise and Cooper (I think, again all the white dudes look alike) follows it to find ANOTHER DOGGO. A very sweet doggo who immediately befriends him, and I swear to fucking god, if this doggo dies, I am going to set something on fire. [bat: WE WILL BURN EVERYTHING DOWN!]
(I sort of take back that whole good at clearing the house because we only see them clear the ground floor. Maybe they did the rest of it and we just didn’t have to watch it — oh, wait, they clear upstairs once they’re all inside downstairs, which is certainly a choice. I guess they have two bad options, really. Clear upstairs while outside and risk another attack from the woods or clear upstairs while everyone else is downstairs and risk an attack from upstairs.)
Cooper basically takes charge, sets Spoon to binding Sarge’s wounds and Terry to keep an eye out front. Ryan continues to be grumpy and sketchy in the corner.
There’s no telephone in the house, and Megan shouts at them not to eat the food, it’s not theirs, but the guys eat anyway, because it’s the training, never miss a chance to eat.
Sarge shouts and moans as they put him back together, and it’s kind of horrible. Poor guy. [bat: Pretty sure he should be dead already from blood loss and shock, although I don’t know much about disemboweling, I find this hard to believe.]
The soup has tough meat in it, and they’re not sure what it is, but they think it’s pork. [bat: Well, long pig is the other OTHER white meat…]
IT’S PEOPLE, YOU IDIOTS. P E O P L E.
God, I love werewolf movies.
Megan tells them the nearest phone is 50 miles away, as the crow flies, and the nearest town is Fort William, at least a 4 hour drive back through the woods the way they just came. Gee, whoever lives in this farmhouse must really want privacy and really love the isolation of the woods. And hunting.
I WONDER WHO COULD LIVE HERE. [bat: Clearly the three
Megan’s not sure their wounded can make it, but Cooper says Sarge, at least, can’t afford for them to wait. Plus the farmhouse could be compromised.
(He actually says: “…unless your friends have just gone walkabout” and now I’m curious as to whether that’s got some racism to it, like “off the reservation” does here in the USA. Like, is it an offensive term when used like this? A walkabout is a part of Aboriginal culture, but that’s clearly not what’s meant here, so does it have similar negative connotations as something like “off the reservation” does? I should do some reading on this.)
Megan agrees to take them the sooner the better, and Cooper and Spoon go to bring the truck around. Around where? You literally just walked in the front door, why can’t you all walk out it, too? (Also, he sets Joe to watching Ryan with the safety off his gun. Good plan, Cooper. Good plan.)
Gorgeous scene outside where one of the guys lights a flare and we see the truck’s hood and engine have been utterly destroyed, absolutely shredded metal and all. WEREWOLVES. <3 <3 <3
And then werewolves appear! Cooper (I think) tells Spoon not to shoot them, not to stare back at them. Because Cooper is a werewolf whisperer? Spoon (I guess) says that he can’t help but stare back, which, you know, VALID.
We still don’t get a good look at them, but we do see pointed furry ears and hands with long fingers and sharp claws. They are dramatically backlit, which makes them creepier, in part because it avoids that thing where the werewolf special effects look so terrible it is distracting. (If I remember correctly, they aren’t actually all that terrible, but often the longer a werewolf movie can hold off showing the entire werewolf, the better.)
The men finally race back for the house, shooting back at the werewolves. They manage to spill gas and blow up the truck, because sure, why not. [bat: When you drop a flare next to a damaged truck that’s obviously leaking all kinds of auto fluids…] Just when they think they’re safe inside, the werewolves attack, one of them nearly managing to get inside.
At the same time, cute doggo Sam decides he absolutely has to play tug of war with Sarge’s guts. WHAT THE FUCK, MOVIE. This is great. (I mean that. I love this movie.) [bat: I laughed. That’s a winning joke.]
Throughout this, Ryan sits grumpily in the corner. Ryan can fuck right off into the sea. Or better yet, have his balls and dick and face eating off by werewolves while he’s still alive.
(We do get to see a werewolf arm as one reaches in through the door. It’s not nearly as furry as it looked from afar, much more like leathered skin over solid muscle.)
Megan tries to pull Sam off Sarge, which just encourages the tug of war, Ryan shouts for her to shut the dog up, and you don’t get a fucking say here, DOGGO KILLER. Finally Sam lets go of Sarge’s guts (no, seriously, this movie), Cooper gets the men set up to watch the windows and the doors, and MOTHER FUCKING RYAN GETS A GUN AND SETS UP TO SHOOT THE DOG BECAUSE WHAT THE GODDAMN HELL. One of the men sees what’s going on with Sam and Sarge and vomits all over him, which is the very least he deserves. (Joe did it, maybe.)
[bat: “Your dog knows a flesh eater when he smells one!”]
Cooper gives some good orders: make a clear line of fire, give them something inviting, lure them in. Not real sure what you have that’s inviting, you know, besides all of you, but decent plan otherwise.
(For a moment, Joe leans against the wall and it looks like some of the deer horns are coming out of his head. PREY!)
Oh, no, it’s Terry, not Joe. Sorry, Joe.
Cooper sends Terry to boil a lot of water and, oh, put the kettle on because they could all do with a brew. Aww, those Brits, spot of tea helps with everything. (Dove would agree.)
They sort of halfway cover the windows with wood and heavy furniture where possible, which means we’ll for sure see a werewolf bursting through one of those at some point, and I can’t wait.
Megan wants to know if they came to the woods for the werewolves. Cooper admits he doesn’t have a fucking clue what they are, of course he isn’t there for them. Nor does he care what they are. His men are there for a routine training mission.
She is frustrated that it wasn’t a rescue mission after all, which makes all of us curious, but she walks off without saying more. She does tell them that the werewolves are smart, they’re probably working as a team, looking for a weakness, looking for a way in, exactly the kind of thing the soldiers would do in their place. Cooper wants to treat them like any other enemy, but Megan says they’re no ordinary enemy.
Upstairs in the bathroom, Ryan dramatically stares at himself in a tarnished mirror, and he is very clearly turning into a werewolf. I do hope this movie didn’t think it was being subtle here.
One of the dudes, Joe maybe (you know, some closed captioning will list the name of the character speaking. I need them to do that every time), says this standoff reminds him of Rorke’s Drift (or Rocks drift, as closed captioning thinks), a battle with a couple hundred British Army regulars against several thousand Zulu fighters.
WELP. Certainly it’s not racist to compare Zulu fighters to literal animalistic monsters. Not at all.
Apparently the British won at Rorke’s Drift against the odds, which is, of course, the reference actually being made here, but come the fuck on, people. Think about what you write. You can choose to write a racist character, sure, but this comes across as more accidental racism because you don’t even know that you should be considering this sort of comparison.
(Joe or whoever says that it was 100 “men of heart” against 10,000 Zulu warriors, but those are not the numbers I saw when I went to confirm whether this was real or not, so way to exaggerate, dude. Believable! But also ridiculous exaggeration.)
He’s apparently loving this standoff, because of course he is and even breaks out a pane or two of glass from the window so he can have a clear shot.
Cooper FINALLY asks if they’re talking about wolves, because Cooper has cemented his place as my favourite man in this movie and continues to prove why. Megan says they’re not entirely wolf nor entirely human but somewhere in between.
Cooper doesn’t believe her, of course, despite him being the one to bring up wolves in the first place. Because wolves stand 6+ feet tall and walk on their hind legs, do they? Come on, Cooper.
Megan snaps at him not to be an asshole, she thought they might be there because of the werewolves (though no one has actually said the word, the closest is Cooper saying wolf men), and she storms off to sit on the stairs behind Sarge.
I still want to know why the fuck you think they’d come there as a rescue mission. I know that special forces were there for one werewolf, but were they there hunting it or rescuing people or what? I WANT MORE INFORMATION PLEASE.
Sarge likes her sharpness. Me too, Sarge. Me too.
Terry finally finishes brewing up and starts to bring around tea. The werewolves choose then to come closer to the house, which of course sets Joe to firing wildly because he’s real into this whole shooting monsters thing. [bat: It was rude not to offer them a cuppa. They can smell the tea, I’m sure.] [Wing: Literal laugh out loud here, bat.]
Cooper tells Megan he needs her help with Sarge, and when she starts to tell him that she knows how to kill (we assume the werewolves), Sarge’s cries of pain when Cooper tries to stop his bleeding cut her off. [bat: Kind of suspicious timing that he starts screaming RIGHT THAT SECOND.]
Cooper asks her for super glue and whiskey, and this is going to be a fun time for all, isn’t it.
Now that they’ve both calmed down a bit, she apologises for calling him an asshole, though she has no damn reason to, and says she has a mean streak a mile across. I love you, Megan, and your sharpness, and your mean streak, and your bouncy curls, and the fact you’re about to help glue a man back together.
Cooper gets Sarge up the stairs with him leaking blood the entire way [bat: Finally, accuracy appears!], and then we get a montage of various white dudes going through various things in the house, and I can’t tell a damn one apart. One of them finds an electric carving knife (oh boy), one of them goes through a trunk and finds a sword (that’s probably Joe, I’d assume), and Cooper and Megan set about gluing Sarge back together.
Brief werewolf POV from outside the farmhouse. They’re circling at a distance, but haven’t come back in for an attack. Maybe looking for a way in, like Megan said earlier, but, uh, all those windows and doors, after they shredded metal? They could easily get inside. No way that handful of men can cover everything.
So: playing with their food.
Upstairs, Cooper and Megan continue to patch Sarge back together. Sarge wants to hang on to his handgun, but Cooper takes it away. Probably better leave him with it. Sarge is real damn upset over Bruce dying, and also he’s in a shitload of pain. He’s on painkillers and some alcohol at this point, and thanks Cooper for saving his life. God, I kind of love Sarge. He’s such a grumpy leader, but he really fucking cares about his men.
Ryan continues to creepily and dramatically lurk around away from everyone else. He listens to Sarge yell in pain and looks at some of the various things around the house, including a picture of what appears to be a family, mom and dad and brother and sister. There are some books nearby that include Strip Poker, Advice for Any Occasion, and McCortney and Me. Old-fashioned decorations, more whiskey (this is my kind of home), a picture of the house itself, and then over to Joe (I think) still keeping watch.
Sarge is babbling now, telling Megan how Cooper is his best mate, salt of the earth, great person. The rest of the guys in the squad are great, but damn, Cooper is the best, he loves him like a mate, he’s so drunk and so high on painkillers and in so much pain still. UGH, my heart.
He begs Cooper to knock him out, Cooper doesn’t manage to do so on the first punch but does on the second, and then he and Megan race to get Sarge glued back together. Man, this is actually taking forever.
Megan tells Cooper that she’s lived locally for two years, she’s a zoologist and she came for the wildlife, and I fucking adore her. He assumes she heard the stories as well, and sure enough, she heard them and that’s why she went looking.
And when she went looking, she found evidence.
She’s fascinated by the possibility, but Cooper doesn’t let her finish, because he can’t believe she seriously believes in werewolves. And finally we have someone calling them what they are. Also, as much as I like you, Cooper, maybe you could shut the fuck up and listen for once.
Megan knows how unlikely it sounds, and she wouldn’t have believed it either straight out of school, but now she knows they’re real, as real as she and Cooper are. She warns him he’ll believe, too, before they get through the night.
Downstairs the dude who found the sword is now playing with it, swinging it around. I still think this might be Joe, which means the dude keeping watch probably isn’t. I wish I could tell them apart better!
Cooper comes back downstairs and takes the sword away because dude will put a fucking eye out with it, the way he’s swinging it. Dude also has a heavy pot as a weapon, and I am delighted.
Oh, Terry is maybe the one keeping watch at the window. Will I remember that? No. Cooper gathers them for a pep talk. He wants them to make a stand at the house and fight, no more running, and if they stick together, he thinks (or at least wants them to think) they have a chance to survive. [bat: *presses X to doubt*]
Joe finally asks the question I’m sure the rest of them are thinking, because none of them are like me and immediately jump to werewolves no matter the situation, and Megan tells them they’re fighting lycanthropes. (Werewolves to you and me, Cooper explains when Joe doesn’t get it.)
Joe (…I think) isn’t a believer, but one of the other dudes (maybe Terry, maybe not; there’s yet another dude still keeping watch at the window and I don’t know who the fuck any of the three of them are) says it makes perfect sense.
Megan points out that, you know, full moon, teeth, claws, howling, there’s a logical explanation here. Well, logical in a sense, I guess. God, she’s gorgeous and I love her. She says she’s been tracking them and studying them for an entire year; every month they hunt under the full moon, working as a team, dedicated to the kill, and in that year, at least 15 people have vanished. I would have expected more, actually, with that many werewolves, but 15’s still a pretty solid number. Hikers mostly, in small groups or alone, caught in the open, hunted, torn apart, and eaten.
God I love werewolves. And Megan’s blunt way of talking about this.
[bat: I gotta ask, though, why consistently killing people? Why not… steer? Sheep? Other wild animals? Is there’s a specific reason these werewolves have to kill people? Yes, I know, it’s a horror movie, stop poking the plot, bat. I’m just curious, since vampire films have shown them feeding on animals in make-shift attempts to survive. Is this a “man is the ultimate prey” type of deal?] [Wing: Some legends have werewolves either craving human meat over everything else or flat out needing to eat it. Not sure what’s going on here, specifically, though.]
(Camera lingers on Cooper reloading and specifically on his fingers with their short, blunt nails. Seems like foreshadowing for him growing claws at some point in the next hour.)
She’s never seen the actual slaughter just the aftermath. No werewolves, no bodies, just blood. She goes on to talk about the eyebrows thing being nonsense, dark age paranoia, and I feel like I missed some sort of line asking about that. Missed it on all my viewings, I’ll say, because I’m confused by that every time. If it does happen somewhere, I hope bat catches it and lets us know. [bat: Nope, there was no prior eyebrows reference in the film, but as far as I can find, sporting a unibrow was a sign of a werewolf in European folklore. It likely ties into cases of Hypertrichosis aka werewolf syndrome.] [Wing: Yeah, it’s pretty common in werewolf legends out of Europe, I was more wondering if I’d missed it in the movie. I have been distracted by my inability to distinguish between the white dudes.] No one’s gotten close enough to try silver bullets, which seems unlikely. Not having silver bullets? Sure. Not getting close enough to shoot at them? Clearly false.
Oh, Spoon is the one who was willing to believe in werewolves earlier. I’ll never keep him straight from Joe and Terry, but good to know for the moment. He’s also gungho about going in with silver bullets.
…where are you getting said silver bullets, dude?
Cooper’s still not fully convinced that they’re not just people escaped from a “nuthouse” who haven’t shaved or cut their nails. Goddamn it, Cooper. Fuck you.
However, what they are doesn’t really change what’s going on, which is the squad and Megan and Ryan are in the house and their attackers are outside.
Joe starts talking about how all of this is “born,” which is not the first time the word’s come up, and Megan, thank fuck, asks what I’m wondering: what the fuck does that mean? It means bollocks, not very good, etc. Oooookaaaaay.
She asks if there’s anything else she needs to know, and Cooper decides she needs their call signs because they all have to be specific. Good luck keeping some of them straight, Megan. Hope you’re better at this than I am.
Upstairs you have Sergeant Wells who you seem to know inside and out by now.
COOPER. I LOVE YOU AND YOUR INAPPROPRIATE DRY HUMOUR.
[bat: I liked “Spoon, the vomiting cavalier!”]
Captain Ryan is not one of the team and they don’t really know why he’s there. Ryan says he’d tell them if he could, and, uh, why can’t you? Because if you know, you’re facing a life and death situation and maybe now’s the time to come clean, especially if you know something that would help.
Of course, you’re also a goddamn doggo killer, so fuck you I hope they eat you while you’re still alive.
Cooper doesn’t let him get away with that, points out his team was killed, etc. but Ryan won’t be led. They’re all in the same shit, but he doesn’t need them, he claims. One of the Impossible Three snaps that he needed them two hours ago, which is a good fucking point and also, has it only been two hours? Damn.
Cooper’s turn to look at photos. This is a different one, though it has the same four people from before and another dude added to it. As the other guys keep arguing, Megan tells Cooper that the picture is of the Auths, a Celtic name. The family has lived there for centuries.
…so, the family line as a whole or are werewolves immortal unless they’re killed? I’m down with either option, but, you know, it’s pretty clear what’s going on. I love it, but it’s not subtle.
Megan brings them back on target, wanting to know why Ryan was out there. Cooper has an idea, but he wants to hear it from Ryan himself. And then he asks how Ryan is feeling.
COOOOOOOOPER. For being one of the people who doesn’t believe in werewolves still, you are real damn close to some good logic there, and I love you for it. He goes on to talk about how Ryan could barely open his eyes, much less walk, when they found him and now look at him, healthy enough to dramatically lurk all over the house.
COOPER I LOVE YOU.
Megan watches all of this very intently, because yes, of course she does.
Cooper wants to look at his wound, but Ryan warns him off and even pulls a gun when he comes close. The rest of the guys point their guns at him kind of uselessly, but Megan beats him over the head with a heavy pot, because Megan is fucking amazing.
It causes him to fire one shot through the window, sending Sam (you know, Doggo #2) scampering and a fight to kick off. They get him held down and sure enough his wound is healed into a scar. They tie him up with torn towels, which I have zero belief would hold him long even if he wasn’t turning into a werewolf. Cooper wants him to answers questions; Megan asks what he’s going to do, torture him, and when Cooper turns that back on her, asking what she’d do, she flat out says she’d torture him.
I love how practical and blunt she is, and also all the things this actor does with her face. Her expressions are great, and far more subtle than some of the things going on around her, like Ryan’s dark drama everywhere. (Which is intentional, I think! And fits the character. Just a different way to play it.)
The lights start to flicker and then go out, and immediately they assume the werewolves shut down the generator. Megan explains that they’d do it because they can see in the dark. See? Definitely playing with their food.
(My god, it takes me so much longer to recap a movie than a book. I’ve been at this for two days now [obviously not straight through], and we’re not yet an hour into it. We still have 50 minutes of movie left. I love it, and I’m having a good time recapping, but I find it incredibly weird how much longer these recaps take.) [bat: And now you know why it takes me forever to do recaps. Especially when I go on a deep dive.] [Wing: I know, right? I don’t understand how a movie can take so much longer, but damn.]
Cooper finally starts to believe her, which is good because the werewolves are coming. The guys arm up, when Megan asks what she can do, Cooper asks what she wants to do (run and hide because she knows what’s coming) and then asks her to take care of Sam (DOGGO) and keep an eye on Ryan. Bash him in the head a couple more times, Megan! You know you want to. We all want you to. (Cooper even tells her to, which delights me.)
Ryan and Megan exchange a long look while Megan pets Sam. Ryan’s dramatic, as always, and Megan has this hardness to her expression that is just great.
Dramatic music ends, we get silence but for the sounds of them moving their guns and Joe’s gum chewing. It’s very effective, actually, much better at raising the tension than the actual score was.
Then the door handle starts to turn. They’ve figured out how to open doors!
While Joe focuses on that door, a werewolf starts to bang on another door, and yet another werewolf moves past the window that is now behind Joe. There sure are a lot of doors to the outside in this one area near the kitchen.
Joe rushes to lock the chain on the banging door, because why wouldn’t you have handled that before, and then Spoon (or maybe Terry, you know how I am) shouts that they’re under attack and a window explodes inward.
Lots of shooting at the one werewolf [bat: What happened to making every bullet count?], another breaks a different window, then a third breaks the window on the door to try to reach in and unlock it. There’s lots of camera sharp camera jumps, dramatic slow motion shots of guns firing, at one point Cooper throws boiling water on the werewolf at the door, at another point Spoon (or Terry) looses his gun to one of the werewolves and then throws a grenade of some sort out there. (A flash grenade maybe?)
Werewolf at one of the doors tries to come in while one of the guys reloads, another guy throws himself across the floor to block the door from opening, reloading guy is standing in front of a boarded-over window, so I imagine he’ll be dragged through it soon, a werewolf coldcocks one of the guys and sends him to the floor, if I thought it was hard to keep these dudes straight earlier, there is no way I’m going to manage it now, I can’t even always tell if it is Cooper.
Meanwhile, Megan holds Sam and Ryan fights against his bindings.
YUP, werewolf reached through boarded up window and grabbed reloading dude, clawing at him while he struggles. Cooper uses the sword to cut off the werewolf’s hand [bat: There’s a
monkey werewolf’s paw joke in there somewhere], freeing whoever it was. Terry, maybe. [Wing: Chop off the hand of an animal, find your wife at home missing a hand!]
A tank of something I assume is flammable falls out of something I assume is a closet and there are plenty more in that closet. I’m sure something will happen with this soon. [bat: Acetylene tank? Propane? Whatever it is, decidedly flammable gas, ahoy!]
One of the dudes is nailing the door shut again and when a werewolf reaches through the letter slot, he beats its hand with the hammer. I laugh out loud every time I see that. It’s delightful.
Cooper hears something upstairs and suddenly remembers, you know, Sarge is up there unarmed and unprotected. (I mean, he’s also been bitten and gutted, had a dog chew on his innards, and is literally glued together, so he’s got a lot going on right now.)
Cooper takes a gun upstairs and finds a fucking werewolf standing just inside a window in Sarge’s room. We get our first clearer look at the makeup, and it’s not too bad at all. It’s backlit and at the back of the camera shot, but we can see heavy muscles and how terribly, terrifyingly tall they are, the long, clawed fingers, and the shaggy hair around a face that isn’t quite lupine but is just different enough to be monstrous.
Also, for some reason there’s a candle burning on the nightstand even though when they left him up there, the power was still on. Sarge, did you wake up from your pain meds/alcohol/punched in the head stupor long enough to light it?
Cooper shoots, another werewolf at another window knocks him over and his gun slides under the bed. While he frantically tries to get it, Sarge starts moving (not yet fully awake), and we get an even better shot of the werewolf. There appears to be tufts of fur at its elbows and of course that heavy mane around its head and throat, but the rest of the body is kind of leathery skin. The face still is close but not too close to lupine, and all the more frightening for it. The ears are pointed but have a weird curve to them so they droop a little over its forehead.
Altogether not a terrible werewolf design. [bat: I would agree in the sense that it’s something different then the standard design, they certainly tried to be bold and mix bits and pieces to create something that was recognizable but stands out.]
Cooper is trying to kick his way free of the other werewolf and shouting for Sarge to wake up. He’s still unable to get to his gun and grabs the nearest thing, which is a camera with a bright flash on it. He snaps pictures of the werewolf, because why not.
Sarge wakes up and gets a gun from somewhere I thought Cooper took his earlier and also it was a handgun. Maybe they left him with an automatic after all. Anyway, shells hit the floor dramatically — oh, wait, that’s back downstairs.
Back upstairs, Sarge is starting to wake up, Cooper kicks the one werewolf in the face (and seems to maybe knock it off the roof) and scrambles for his gun just as Sarge finishes waking up and grabs the handgun from earlier, which was left on one of the nightstands. They shoot until the werewolf goes away and we get silence (but for background noise like Sam’s panting), again very effective after all the noise of the fight scene, and it looks like all the werewolves have pulled back at least for one glorious moment.
Ryan continues to dramatically look at everything.
Werewolf point of view outside, snarling and heartbeat.
Just when everyone thinks they’re safe, one of them — Spoon? — puts his back to a broken window and says, “Dogs? More like pussies.” which of course means he’s about to die. [bat: Never insult werewolves, man.]
Megan rushes to the window and stares out as he screams. We don’t get to see his violence, but we do see her cut her hand on a jagged piece of glass still on the window frame. Blood runs down her palm very dramatically and she slowly backs away from the window, still staring outside. [bat: Pointless foreshadowing for fun and profit!]
Cooper checks on Sarge and then starts to head back downstairs (leaving him alone AGAIN, WTF COOPER); Sarge calls him back long enough to tell him that the squad is his now. Cooper goes back downstairs, leaving Sarge (alone!) to look at a picture he carries around and dramatically set it against the headboard.
Downstairs, Megan tells Cooper that the werewolves took Terry (thank you for clearing that up, Megan!). Cooper and Joe want to go and get him back, but Ryan tells them to forget about him, which of course infuriates Cooper. [bat: It’s not a loss! Let the weres have him!]
Also, Ryan is looking very pale sitting there by the fire and his eyes very red and a little wet. The change is coming, dear readers. The change is coming.
Ryan is right about one thing, which is that they all do know Terry is already dead. They don’t go after him.
Instead they work on boarding up the windows, and I get why they do, but that didn’t prove very helpful last time. Meanwhile, Spoon or Joe keeps saying that someone had to have heard the gunfire or the howling or something, god.
Megan points out that there’s no other house around for 50 miles but her house and obviously she’s not there. She also takes off her coat and we see flannel. I choose to take this as a nod to queer girls.
They then want to know why anyone hasn’t driven by, at least, and she tells them they were lucky to run into her on the road, because it’s mostly empty. Ryan pipes up that he thought she ran into them, and it sounds all pointed and dramatic. (He is really bringing the drama since he was scratched all to hell. Though I guess he was pretty dramatic in that opening scene WHEN HE KILLED THE DOGGO I HOPE YOU ARE TORN INTO PIECES AND LIVE THROUGH EVERY SINGLE SHREDDED BIT OF SKIN AND SINEW AND MUSCLE AND BONE.)
Megan goes on to say that even if anyone did come by, they’d only end up lambs for the slaughter, like them. Like them and not like us, don’t think I didn’t clock that, Megan.
She goes on to say that sunrise is in six hours and their only hope is 6 hours. Cooper points out that even though they did the best they could, Sarge probably has only 4 hours left in his condition. [bat: Seriously, he should already be dead…]
Ryan continues to dramatically, intensely stare at people, eyebrows drawn down, looking a little shaky and pained.
Cooper works on bandaging Megan’s hand and she asks what he really thinks their chances are. Good, if the ammunition holds out because that’s the only thing keeping the werewolves back, they don’t know how much ammunition is in the house. Unfortunately, there’s probably not enough ammunition. [bat: Not with the way they went through it on that one werewolf! Geez.]
Megan has a fun speech while she intently watches Cooper clean blood from her palm and then bandage it.
Think about it, Cooper. Up until today you believed there was a line between myth and reality. May have been a very fine line sometimes, but at least it was a line. Those things out there are real. And if they’re real, what else is real. You know what lives in the shadows now. You may never get another night’s sleep as long as you live.
I love you so much, Megan! And I love how the actor delivers these lines. She’s matter of fact, almost gentle, but there’s an edge to it, too. She came to research and learn, and boy has she learned.
Cooper reassures Megan that they’ll make it through this because he doesn’t scare that easy. Then he gives her his rabbit foot because it’s supposed to be lucky. She makes a joke I love: “For me or the rest of the rabbit.”
Because really, how lucky can it be?
Ryan pops off twice throughout this, first telling Cooper not to worry about not sleeping for the rest of his life because he won’t live much longer anyway (Cooper: SHUT UP!), and then telling them they’ll need a lot more than luck this time (Megan: SHUT UP!).
Megan’s response catches Cooper’s attention, and he asks if he’s missing something. Oh, not much, I’m sure. No secrets around here.
Turns out that Megan and Ryan know each other. She was seconded (temporarily assigned) to his team during their first visit. Oh ho, what’s this? You’ve been hiding things, both of you? I’m shocked. Shocked I say. [bat: Much shock, zero surprise.]
Anyway, Ryan’s team came the first time to check out the stories and they needed an expert. All very easy to guess based on what the characters know about Megan and about Ryan, but Cooper’s on edge now.
Megan promises him they can make it, it’s just a few more hours, they’ll be fine.
Cooper asks Joe if it’s all clear; it is. Then if Joe wants to kill them all; he does. Cooper tells him good, keep up what he’s doing. Oh boy, Megan done set off his alarm bells on top of Ryan continuing to be a shit. Pretty sure Joe’s going to do something stupid again soon.
This is going to be great!
Spoon tells them they don’t have much ammo, and puts a spare round in his pocket just in case. Welp, someone’s going to die by that round, clearly.
Cooper’s all intense now, clenched jaw, twitching eye, and Megan watches him, even more intently than before. Finally he gives her his handgun and she takes it, slow and awkward at first, then far more comfortable as she tucks it into her waistband, at her back. That always makes me laugh and wonder how soon they’ll shoot themself.
Ryan continues to dramatically stare at Cooper.
Megan’s turn to dramatically stare at things! She’s gone off to a window and stares out at the werewolves, nearly as intense as Ryan’s been. The music is soft and filled with strings, she tilts her head as she watches, expression also as soft as it is focused, and I love her so much.
Shots of the werewolves watching the house and snarling.
Then her focus goes to some dilapidated building across the yard, maybe an old barn. Even the first time I watched it, I figured there was some vehicle in there, maybe also more weapons and ammo.
Cooper and Spoon talk about how no matter how many times they shot the werewolves, they just kept coming. To Cooper, that means they either have to make a break for it and fight their way clear or one person runs for help while the rest make a diversion. Either option sounds shitty, and they all know it.
Joe points out that by the time that one person gets back with the cavalry, they’ll be picking what’s left of the squad from between the werewolves’ teeth.
Sam barks and sends everyone scrambling to aim their guns and prep for another attack. Again, no music, just the sound of guns and gum and people moving. Nothing happens just yet, though.
Ryan dryly picks a fight with Joe, who has been on the fucking edge for awhile now (I told you he’d do something stupid soon; assuming that is Joe and not Spoon, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least this attitude down right), and Joe tries to attack him (though not to shoot him, even in his rage saving ammo), but Cooper keeps them apart.
You know, you could always try to use Ryan as bait. I’m just saying, HE KILLED DOGGO.
(Yes, yes, I know, he’s becoming a werewolf, that’s obvious, they probably wouldn’t eat him, and I’m very annoyed by that. SOMEONE NEEDS TO EAT HIS FACE! AVENGE DOGGO!) [bat: It would make sense, though, to use him because the werewolves would know he’s turning, so give him as an offering? Trade him for safe passage?] [Wing: I mean, if you want to be logical or something.]
Out of the blue (to them, at least), Megan asks if any of them know how to hotwire a car because the family that lives there keeps an old Land Rover in the barn. She doesn’t know where the keys are, but hey, maybe a working vehicle would help.
…you know, that would have been useful information SOME INDETERMINATE AMOUNT OF TIME AGO. Several hours, at least, though I’m really not clear how long they’ve been in the farmhouse.
Joe says he can do it, and it’ll be good to get away from Ryan. Cooper agrees to this plan and says he’ll need a decoy, something fast and loud. Literally everyone turns and looks at Spoon. Or is that Joe? God, I really don’t know at this point, I take back what I said earlier about at least having this bit of temper down.
We’re suddenly upstairs where Sarge is passed out again. Megan’s tying a rope to the foot of the bed, and the bed looks rather heavy, and Spoon? Joe? One of the dudes not Cooper or Ryan asks if she’s really serious about this werewolf thing.
Have you — have you just caught on? God, I hope you’re Joe, because Spoon seemed far more on top of things earlier. He was really the first to jump onto the werewolf belief train.
They uncover the broken windows. Joe is going out one window and Spoon the other.
Sam and Ryan stare at each other.
Spoon walks quietly through the woods, getting into position, and then shouts at them to come at him if they think they’re hard enough. He lights a flare, and I love shit like this, darkness and dramatic flairs lighting the way and something monstrous (in one way or another) coming. See: Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Pitch Black.
The werewolves come running as he keeps yelling at them. We get a werewolf POV of them running at him, Megan tells Joe that they took the bait, then shouts at Spoon to run and climb the damn rope. They just barely get him inside, and then the werewolf grabs the rope and pulls hard on it, dragging the bed to the window and pinning Spoon between it and the wall. Cooper frantically tries to cut the rope, Megan scares off the werewolf with more camera flashes [bat: All I can think of is this lol] [Wing: Oh, that’s a great reference!], there’s lots of shouting and dramatic music, and I love it.
Meanwhile, Joe slips quietly into the barn shed thing and manages to get the Land Rover started. It roars and lights up and oh, shit, there’s a werewolf on the hood eating Terry, who is still fucking alive. [bat: Wow. Movie actually made me feel bad for Terry. What a way to die. Very well done!]
EXCUSE ME, WEREWOLF, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE EATING RYAN ALIVE. HELLO, HE KILLED DOGGO. (I am literally never letting that go and haven’t from the very first time I watched this damn movie. FUCK YOU, RYAN.)
Joe watches as the werewolf bites through Terry’s throat enough to remove his head. Blood splatters all over the windshield, and the werewolf throws the head after. Joe frantically turns on the wipers and they smear away some of the blood. The werewolf is, of course, now coming for Joe, and Joe forces him away from the window and speeds the Land Rover backward toward the house until he’s up against the door.
AND THEN ONE OF MY FAVOURITE TROPES KICKS IN.
The Howling, as you may know, dear reader, was the first horror movie I ever saw, and it has influenced me in several ways, including my love of this trope: Something is in the Backseat. This version is, of course, Surprise Werewolf in the Backseat. (So is the one in The Howling, clearly.)
Joe, you were a delight (when I could figure out which one you were). I’m sad to see you die.
Werewolf breath steaming over his shoulder [bat: That is a fantastic shot!], Joe actually says, “You’re behind me aren’t you,” and then he draws a knife and launches himself into the back of the vehicle, shouting at the werewolf.
Brutal, brave man, that one. Stupid, but brutal and brave.
Blood spatter, snarling, and when the ones left in the house open the door, they find the werewolf inside the truck eating Joe. It leaps toward the door, the men fall back, and Megan saves the day, shooting it with the pistol Cooper gave her earlier, knocking it back long enough for one of the men to slam the door shut.
We hear howling outside and Megan slowly wipes blood from her cheek. Spattered werewolf blood, I think we’re meant to assume.
Weird interlude where Megan plays piano by candlelight, because why not, everyone’s dying, that makes perfect sense. It does give a nice shot of her hands looking pretty agile despite that wound across her right palm. (I think she’s playing “Clair de Lune” by Debussy which means moonlight.) [bat: I appreciate the effort the writers made to put little things in so viewers would catch them.] [Wing: You are an excellent movie viewer, by the way. I love how you dive so hard into all these little details.] [bat: Aw, thanks, Wing! I do try.]
The men mourn their fallen comrades while she plays, and it is all very dramatic, but also fucking ridiculous because SHE’S STOPPED TO PLAY THE FUCKING PIANO IN THE MIDDLE OF A WEREWOLF SIEGE.
Outside, the wolves howl as the not quite full moon shows overhead. Aww, she’s playing for them to sing along. Eventually she stops and listens to them howl.
Several hours later, Cooper comes in from outside and they nail the door shut behind him. He went to check out the Land Rover, I assume, and it doesn’t look good: she’s missing a fuel pump and spilling petrol and everything is looking more and more hopeless.
But we still have 30 minutes left in the movie, so clearly some fun things will still happen! And by fun clearly I mean bloody and terrible. (Fun.)
Oh, and Joe’s body is gone, because Joe’s dinner now.
Spoon has been counting rounds, and they’re down to only 48. Cooper sends him to watch the right, Megan sets herself up at the window behind Ryan, who is still bound to a chair, I think, at the end of the table.
Oh and Sarge appears to be walking around easily now despite that whole being glued back together thing. Either that or I’ve completely missed another white dude soldier this entire time. There were the Impossible Three (Terry: dead, Joe: dead, Spoon: alive), Cooper, and Sarge, right? Plus Ryan, who has healed quickly and Cooper noticed it pretty much immediately, but no one seems at all surprised that Sarge is up and about so soon. [bat: Shenanigans. But maybe a pointless foreshadowing for fun and profit??]
Cooper shouts at Ryan about how this exercise has cost him three men he’d give his right arm for (oh, right, the one waaaay back at the beginning of this fight makes three), and Ryan actually responds thus:
You just can’t get past the dog, can you?
YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I CAN’T GET PAST THE DOG. I HOPE THE WEREWOLVES EAT YOU FROM THE TOES UP AND YOU’RE ALIVE UNTIL THEY REACH YOUR FUCKING FACE.
Ahem. Cooper might also have some anger at Ryan still, I guess, maybe.
Cooper wants to even the score before they all die. Ryan says he understands that, but Cooper fails, always, because he won’t take that extra step (you know, killing doggo LIKE THIS FUCKER). If he’d passed, he would have been on Ryan’s team, and if he’d been on Ryan’s team, he would be dead.
I don’t know, Ryan, he might have survived instead of you, let’s be real.
Cooper’s glad he failed because he would much rather slug it out with his underdogs than take orders from Ryan. And also, he wants Ryan to stop changing the fucking subject and tell them what he fucking knows.
Umm. Look, Cooper, mostly I like you, you gained a lot of goodwill from me by not killing doggo and by not leaving the wounded behind, even DOGGO KILLER, but Megan tried earlier to tell you that she knows how to kill them, you completely ignored her, and now you’re going to Ryan for information? At least ask her if she knows anything else useful, goddamn.
Ryan warns him that they won’t like what he has to say, and then tells them about the Special Weapons Division, the scientists who train dolphins to stick mines on submarines. (Which might actually be a real thing dolphins are trained by militaries to do, what the hell.) [bat: Oh crap, we’ve veered into Johnny Mnemonic suddenly. And shit, I forgot that movie is set in 2021 during the middle of a global pandemic/plague.] [Wing: THANKS, BAT, FOR THAT DELIGHTFUL REMINDER.] [bat: I AM SO RECAPPING IT NEXT YEAR! IT’LL ALMOST BE META AT THIS POINT!] Also, they train cute furry animals to tear humans’ head off at the neck.
I HOPE A CUTE FURRY ANIMAL TEARS YOUR HEAD OFF AT THE NECK, DOGGO KILLER.
Of course SWD would want werewolves, how could they not? I mean, I don’t blame them. They sent Ryan’s team in to get the werewolf and bring it back alive, if possible. Megan points out that “it” turned out to be “them,” and Ryan dismisses that with a simple line about underestimating enemy numbers. You think?
Ryan and Cooper snarl at each other some over how Ryan fucked up the operation while Sarge looks at a computer chip thing memory card maybe I don’t know. It’s his turn to lay into Ryan, and Sarge wants to know where his team fits into this plan.
They were, of course, the expendable bait.
This news catches Cooper off guard, it seems, though I’m not sure why, and he literally throws himself at Ryan, jerking his head back and putting a knife to his throat, demanding the real information they need.
Finally Ryan flat out says they were bait, because apparently Cooper didn’t get it before it was bluntly laid out for him. HOW, COOPER? HOW DID YOU NOT GUESS? HOW DID YOU NOT GET IT THE MOMENT HE SAID YOU WERE EXPENDABLE?
Cooper and Sarge both go at him, Sarge, again, moving damn well for a man who is literally fucking glued together, why aren’t you noticing this, Cooper?! (I know, I know, there’s a lot going on, BUT COME ON.) [bat: I NOTICED! I NOTICED!!]
Cooper drags Ryan back to his fight, telling him that he knows what they can do, he needs to tell them what will give them a fighting chance against the werewolves.
Dramatic music, dramatic baring of the teeth from Ryan, and dramatic shine to his eyes.
GEE I WONDER IF SOMEONE IS TURNING INTO A WEREWOLF?
Cooper throws him down the length of the table, because that’s a great plan, give him time and room to shift, and this knocks some weapons around, including knocking the sword to the floor.
Megan again has the camera. Megan is obsessed with this camera, and I love her. (Megan also looks hot as hell in a sleeveless white tank top.)
Sarge and Cooper exchange a bit about how they didn’t hit him that hard but they shook something loose.
Ryan rises up a little, hands fisted, nails sharp, as he plants them against the table, the rest of him curled forward just out of sight. He comes up, face and eyes and teeth changing. The transformation seems painful and he falls to the floor for the rest of it so all we hear is growling and tearing and then he rises up, snarling and even more dramatic than before.
Megan uses the camera flash to keep him disoriented. [bat: Say ‘cheese’, werewolf!] Sarge calls him a dog and throws a stick from the fireplace, telling him to fetch. I snorted a laugh loud enough I woke up Monster Dog. Spoon shouts that he has a shot, Cooper gets knocked to the side as he goes for the sword but manages to come up with the sword anyway, Sarge slams the burning end of a branch into his skin, Cooper skewers him with the sword, Spoon starts shooting, werewolf!Ryan goes for the window, Megan has to dive out of the way as he jumps and Spoon shoots, and then they all dramatically stand in front of the broken window staring out.
Megan now has three scratches on her right bicep or maybe three scars I’ve never noticed before, but based on how red they look, probably scratches. [bat: I noticed a while ago they kept the camera angle on her upper arms very pointedly… so I’m betting those are healed scars.]
(SHE IS ALSO LOOKING SO DAMN HOT.)
They nail boards over the window a-fucking-gain. Where the hell are you getting all these boards?! Also, Sarge does the nailing (…dirty), because, AGAIN, he’s somehow doing all this fighting and moving and working DESPITE BEING GLUED TOGETHER YOU KNOW THAT RYAN WAS INJURED, HEALED FAST, AND TURNED INTO A WEREWOLF, WHY ARE YOU NOT PUTTING IT TOGETHER, COOPER? [bat: Cooper has trouble grasping concepts that are presented right in his fucking face, apparently.]
Instead, he tries to plan a way out of it, staring at one of the pictures and talking about how werewolves spend most of their time in human form, right? And, of course, the only people for miles around live there in the farmhouse. (I mean, not the only people.) Which means that if they are the people who live in the farmhouse, they aren’t going to give up and go home because they are home.
Sarge continues to delight me.
Think about it. We bust into their house, we eat all their porridge, we sleep in their fucking bed, no wonder they’re pissed off.
Because we haven’t had any sort of reference in awhile. No big bad wolf in this one, but a demanding human and some animals, so well played, Sarge, well played.
Megan argues that they are good people, kind people. Cooper says that’s too bad because what the humans have to do is kill all the werewolves. Have — have you not been trying to do that all along? At what point were you not trying to kill them and escape? And if not, why the fuck not?
Also, you’re down to a handful of bullets at this point, what the fuck do you think you’re going to do?
Sarge slams a hammer into the photo, breaking the glass, agreeing with Cooper, and Megan dramatically stares at it, expression grim. She still has some blood on her cheek, too.
They all start searching for weapons made of silver, and they seem to find a bunch of utensils and such. If silver really kills them (and they really live here), why the fuck would a family of werewolves keep that much silver in the damn house?
Megan watches all of this and looks down, obviously in her feels. And then she continues to delight me.
A self-respecting werewolf wouldn’t have anything silver in the house anyway.
So I guess they’re not finding silver? They sure seemed to be collecting things.
Cooper wants to burn them all, Sarge wants to know how to find them, and Megan says maybe they know how. Everything they’ve done suggests pack behaviour: 6 to 8 members, an alpha pair leading the subordinates, and a young male, a beta wolf, second in command.
…when was that sort of talk debunked? Because it sure as fuck is going to show up in werewolf stories forever. (I love the idea of a complicated pack hierarchy, but I like it because it is the human part of them doing that, not because it’s like actual wolves.) A wolf pack stays close together close to its food supply, somewhere safe, sheltered, and warm.
You know, like that barn over there.
OH LOOK THOSE TANK THINGS FROM EARLIER ARE GOING TO COME IN HANDY. HOW SHOCKING.
OH DAMN. Spoon is the one to bring up the truth about what’s happening to Sarge. Spoon, you have really made yourself memorable. Now if only I could ever recognise you when you were with the Impossible Three. (Guess it’s just the Impossible One now, and I do tend to recognise Sarge and Cooper.)
Cooper doesn’t want to talk about it, and all he will say is that Sarge is with them. Well, yes, currently, and Ryan was a shithead so it makes sense he would go all evil werewolf when he turned, but do you have any idea whether it is possible for a werewolf to not immediately want to hunt humans? Because so far, all you’ve seen are werewolves who want to fucking hunt humans.
Spoon lets it go and says he just didn’t want Sarge to go without getting his watch back, calling back to an earlier bit I’m not even sure I recapped at the time. Just checked, I did, go me! Watch of emotional import is back in play.
Megan leashes Sam to a drawer, because that’ll stop a dog, and tells him to stay out of trouble. You’ll notice that I am not shouting at her for leaving the dog tied to something when there are monsters about, as I did back in the Lost Boys recap (and, of course, I’ve been shouting about DOGGO KILLER this entire recap), and that is because (a) if the werewolves live there, he is their pet, and (b) even if they don’t, they’ve got plenty of humans to keep them company and he was already in the house when they got there and he can fucking easily drag that drawer out and probably also get free of how the leash is tied to it.
Sarge tells Cooper he’s fine, he feels absolutely fantastic, and that’s the fucking problem, isn’t it. OOOOOOOOH, and literally as I typed that, he went on to say, “and that’s a problem, isn’t it?” and I love him.
Cooper still doesn’t want to talk about this, but Sarge won’t let it go, not really, and asks what if Megan is wrong, what if they’re not all in the barn. Shot of him, shot of Megan, and Cooper says then they’ll get some of them, at least and that’s better than none of them.
Sarge tells Cooper to get the fuck out, Sarge will hold them back so Cooper (and I’m going to assume SPOON, oh and Megan, though I don’t blame Sarge for being more focused on the final survivors of his squad) can get out. Cooper thinks they’ve lost enough men, but come the fuck on, Cooper, you know what Spoon and Sarge are both talking about. Let him do this good thing.
(I love you, Sarge.)
Sarge finally shows how fucking completely he’s healed and says that is in no way fucking normal. I LOVE YOU, SARGE, YOU ARE FORCING THE HARD CONVERSATIONS.
Cooper continues to want to be in denial, but, again, Sarge keeps pushing, because Sarge is amazing. He says it only took a couple hours for Ryan, and while I’m not entirely sure that’s true, he also points out that it’s a full fucking moon. Based on the shots we’ve seen of the moon, that is also not entirely true, but I’ll cut him some slack, it is nearly full and most people aren’t as obsessed with the full moon as I am, especially when they’ve been, you know, fighting for their lives and are now turning into a werewolf.
Megan continues to watch them from the other side of an open doorway.
Sarge compares it to needing a piss, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Cooper compares it to needing a shit, just because you gotta go doesn’t mean you drop what you’re doing and go.
…I’m not sure these metaphors are actually working the way you guys think they’re working.
Cooper tries to offer some hope, saying that Ryan could have been a werewolf from the start. Oh, Cooper, I know this sucks, but you are wasting time arguing with him AND EVEN IF RYAN WAS ONE FROM THE START, YOU CANNOT DENY THAT SARGE HAS FUCKING COMPLETELY HEALED FROM BEING GUTTED BY A WEREWOLF AND HAVING HIS ENTRAILS CHEWED ON BY AN ACTUAL DOG, TOO.
That shit ain’t normal, my dude.
Sarge tells him that Cooper needs to learn one more thing about command: sometimes the people you kill are your own men.
UGH MY HEART. Sarge just looks so resigned to all of this, and I love him so damn much.
He asks Cooper to let him take care of it himself and spare Cooper having to explain to Annie (his wife? I guess? I’m sure in that picture earlier) why Cooper had to incinerate him.
Ugh, Sarge, I love you.
Cooper says they still need him, and he’s really shook up. Sarge promises him it’s okay, Sarge just didn’t make it out this time, it goes with the job, when he signed his life away enlisting, he meant it.
UGH MY HEART.
Finally Cooper puts him to work and tells him to roast their bollocks off.
They put the tank in the Land Rover, cut the rest of the petrol line, hotwire it again, and Cooper drives it straight at the barn before jumping out. Spoon frantically tries to light a match to light the trail of petrol and fails to light a single one, good lord, but then he shouts for Sarge and Sarge dramas out of the house basically holding a ball of flame.
My god, turning into a werewolf makes you so damn dramatic. (And I love it. WEREWOLF! FIRE! HAPPY WING!)
He flings the moltov cocktail at the ground, sending a wave of fire toward the barn, covers Cooper while he runs back, we watch the fire dramatically approach the barn, really fucking slowly, I must say, and Cooper just makes it inside the house before the barn blows the fuck up in a glorious burst of flames.
Cooper turns away from the window to find Megan standing behind him and they share a long, dramatic moment that is pretty much the perfect moment for the hero to get to kiss the girl, his prize, you know.
Megan leans in close, still the perfect setup for a kiss —
— and tells him she’s sorry.
I FUCKING LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF YOU, MEGAN.
She tells him that when she found them, she thought they were her best chance of getting out, but now they have no chance and there is no out, there never was. She came here to be at one with nature and she fucking got what she wanted and now she has to live with it. [bat: Wheee!! I was waiting for this plot twist reveal and it’s satisfying! It’s like Star trying to use Michael as an escape route but better.]
(Throughout this bit of monologue, Sarge keeps playing with a single bullet.)
Cooper doesn’t want to admit what’s very clear, but finally says there’s no house in the next glen and there weren’t any werewolves in the barn when it blew and she’s not in the photographs because she took them.
She starts to say that she never meant it, but he dismisses her, as he’s been prone to do, so I don’t even feel that sorry for him at the moment. (She tried to fucking tell him she knew how to kill them several hours ago and he ignored that part the rest of the night!)
He then snarks that women always have the same old shit, and I hope she eats your face off. You can die fast, though, since you didn’t kill doggo.
Megan then also gets on my shitlist and almost back off of it in three lines:
Being nice to women will get you nowhere, Cooper. Being nice to me will get you killed. You may think they’re all bitches, but I’m the real thing.
On the one hand, fuck misogyny. On the other hand, FUCK YEAH MONSTER WOMEN.
(I will say that Megan is one of the few werewolf women I’ve seen in stories who lands more on the pathos side of things that sexual predator; she doesn’t want to be a werewolf, she wants to escape, and she’s more pitiful than predator. Usually that is reserved for the werewolf man.)
She doubles over, obviously no longer able to fight off her shift, and then snarls some more delightful lines at them.
Do you think I like being part of this fucked up family? Do you think I chose to run with the pack? No, I chose you. But now you’re out of luck and I’m out of time. And all we can do is let nature take its course. They were always here, I just unlocked the door. It’s that time of the month.
Goddamn I love Megan. I also love the werewolf metaphor of it being “that time of the month.” It could (and often does) have shades of misogyny built into it (women are terrible when they’re on their period, etc., and of course in that scenario, women are the only ones who get periods, which isn’t true), but it can also play against that, in that a woman is monstrous and powerful on her own, especially when she embraces what she’s becoming.
As she prepares for the shift, three werewolves dramatically step into the light behind her so that we see them over her shoulder and above her head and then two of them flanking her, them against the walls, all breathing heavy and moving slow.
I’ll say it again: My god, these werewolves are dramatic.
Sarge looks at the handgun he’s just loaded, Spoon peeks around the corner, and Cooper stares them all down.
Sarge leaps up to stand next to Cooper, Megan’s eyes and mouth snap open showing her irises changing color and her teeth becoming fangs. Before she can shift further, Sarge shoots her in the forehead and says somebody had to put her out of her misery.
Which is true, based on what she was saying! And something that he is starting to know intimately well, obviously. [bat: I’d consider this death a kindness.]
The men run upstairs, except for Spoon who plans on covering them, but first his gun jams and then when he tries to run up after them, a werewolf gets in his way. He bolts to the side and into a different room, slamming the door behind him.
Upstairs, Sarge and Cooper race down the hall looking for a place to hide. Cooper rolls a flash grenade (their last one, maybe? Though it would be a lot of fun if there was one more) down the hall to distract the werewolves.
Spoon barricades the door as best he can with a chair and then promptly shoots holes in the door, the last of his bullets. He shouts at the werewolf to come for him.
A werewolf charges down the hallway through the smoke from the flash grenade and Cooper shoots wildly at him. He manages to lock himself in a bathroom and starts shouting for Sarge, because that’s smart.
Sarge is also in a bathroom, a glow stick in his mouth and that pistol in his hand. (You know, that reminds me, why does one bullet to the head put Megan down but all those fucking bullets before haven’t stopped a single werewolf? Have these men literally been able to hit none of them? Not a single one?) [bat: I would hazard it’s because she’s still in mostly human form. Far more vulnerable.] He sits on the toilet and tries to the hold the door with one foot while he shouts to Cooper that he’s in the khazi, which is slang for the toilet. I guess the actual commode is separate from the rest of the bathroom here (and I think that’s normal in a lot of places), so Cooper’s in the part with the tub and the sink and Sarge is in a smaller space behind another door.
Well, two doors, apparently, one on the side where Cooper is and one with a werewolf outside it.
Cooper’s too busy holding his own door to really do anything at this point.
Back to Spoon, the werewolf breaks through the door into the kitchen while Spoon continues to shout at him. Spoon boxes with him a minute and actually gets a couple good hits in on him before the werewolf backhands him across the room. Oh, hey, he’s over by where Sam was tied. Where the fuck is Sam?
Spoon gets a knife, actually lands a blow on the werewolf again, and you know, this is going far better for the humans than it ever did with all their guns and ammo. What the hell, movie?
He even appears to knock a fucking tooth out of the werewolf’s mouth! Seriously, all those bullets, nothing, but Spoon can fucking box a werewolf? (Don’t get me wrong, I love the hell out of it, and I understand this is Rule of Cool BUT STILL.)
Upstairs, Cooper kicks over the sink, sending water spraying across the bathroom, while still trying to hold the door. Sarge, too, is holding his door and searching for a weapon. I guess all he has left is that one bullet for himself? Or maybe no bullets at all after Meghan. Anyway, he grabs a spray can of something, I’m assuming hairspray, just as the werewolf shoves its hand through the door.
You know, these werewolves seem to punch through doors easily when it is most dramatic and then can’t do it at all the rest of the time. SEE? BECOMING A WEREWOLF IN THIS MOVIE MAKES YOU DRAMATIC AS HELL.
Spoon continues to box with his werewolf and stab the fuck out of it and WHAT THE FUCKING HELL. HE COULDN’T DO SHIT WITH A GUN AND YET ALL THIS PUNCHING AND STABBING WORKS? Blood sprays everywhere, then the werewolf sits up, both of their faces covered in werewolf blood, and again bats him across the room.
Sarge apparently has matches or a lighter or something because he’s made himself a flamethrower with the hairspray. I LOVE YOU, SARGE, YOU JUST KEEP GIVING ME WEREWOLF + FIRE.
Cooper, meanwhile, breaks a pipe loose so that he can break through the wall and get to Sarge, so I guess there is only one door into that part of the bathroom. The layout of this makes no fucking sense to me. Oh well. Cooper’s werewolf breaks through the bathroom door while he’s doing this, and Sarge shouts that he’s running out (of FIRE).
Downstairs, Spoon starts chucking china at the werewolf, and I cannot get over how ridiculous and wonderful this is. What the hell, Spoon, you’re fucking wild. The werewolf actually dodges this shit instead of, you know, fucking killing him. There is playing with your food and there is this. He knocks over a lamp, and I’m guessing we’ll see some more fire soon.
Cooper realises his werewolf has broken through the door and turns on it, stabbing the pipe into its forehead.
Downstairs, Spoon beats the werewolf with a pan, knocking it down and then pausing dramatically to scream at it (you are not a werewolf, Spoon, don’t be so dramatic!) only for a werewolf to suddenly be standing in front of him, grabbing him. The werewolf he’s beat the shit out of? Another werewolf? Unclear.
He tells it he hopes he gives it the shits and spits in its face. I’m guessing this is another werewolf because then a second one comes into frame and that’s likely the one he beat the shit out of.
Camera jumps to Sam (HI SAM!) and all we hear is growling and then silence —
— as we jump back upstairs to where Sarge is still spraying fire at the werewolf at the door. Cooper breaks through the wall into the room with Sarge, crawls under his legs to get a knife from him —
— as we see the werewolves snarling as they tear into Spoon’s body in the kitchen while Sam watches. One of the werewolves dramatically pushes its face in toward Sam and Sam barks at it (if you are Ryan and YOU KILL ANOTHER GODDAMN DOGGO I’M GOING TO BURN THIS TO THE GROUND AND SARGE WILL HELP ME) —
— as we jump to more fire! Sarge is still using his makeshift flamethrower and Cooper breaks through the wall into another room just as Sarge’s flame runs out and the werewolf comes tearing through what’s left of the bathroom door. They get into a bedroom and try to block up the hole so the werewolf can’t come after them, frantically pushing all the furniture they can in front of it. All that work and there’s a werewolf at the actual door, too. Sarge tells Cooper they should get in the wardrobe, and inside, dramatically lit by Sarge’s blue glowstick, they look for the source of some terrible smell. It is, of course, human bones.
Sarge takes the gun and tells him to open his mouth, mind his ears, and watch his toes, and then shoots the fucking floor out from beneath them. DAMN, SARGE.
(Shouldn’t they really be out of ammo by now? I thought they were down to like 45 bullets about 500 bullets ago.)
They both land in the kitchen, Sarge shoots back up through the hole, hitting the werewolf and making it whine. At least I think it’s the werewolf and not Sam, who is still alive.
Cooper goes over to free Sam, because Cooper is usually pretty great. Sarge finds his watch in Spoon’s destroyed remains [bat: “THERE IS NO SPOON!” oh my god I am here for that line and reference!] [Wing: I love you.], and the men are, of course, furious. They block the door to the kitchen better than Spoon did, but only just, and then they find a crawl space of some sort. Cooper goes in first and calls Sam into it. See? Cooper can be GREAT. And also fucked up. Like most people. (EXCEPT FOR DOGGO KILLER. I HOPE YOU ARE DEAD SOMEWHERE DOGGO KILLER.)
Sarge tells Cooper to go without him and gives him the handgun that yes, does have one bullet left in it. Cooper refuses to go without him, they brawl a little right there in the kitchen because there’s nothing else important going on right now, but finally Sarge convinces him that he has to make it out alive, not just for Sarge or for the rest of the squad but because he can prove it happened. Sarge hands him something I can’t tell what it is [bat: It’s a roll of film!], looking all sweaty and in pain much like Ryan and then Megan did, so it’s clearly his turn to drama it up even more than he already has.
He fights his change long enough to slam the trap door closed, put out the fire, and cut open the gas line so it’s filling the room while he slumps against the cabinets. He looks at the picture one more time, body fighting him, and then as the werewolves come stalking into the kitchen all slow and dramatic, he stares at them, irises mostly still normal but changing, and then dramatically holds up his lighter, planning to blow them up.
Unfortunately, dramatically holding up the lighter gives the front werewolf (there are three) time to knock it out of his hand. That’ll teach him. (I doubt it, these werewolves are fucking dramatic.) [bat: DRAMAWERES!]
Instead he reaches up for the stove and turns on one of the burners, and then, as he’s changing, hits the button that starts the fire under the burner.
Beneath the floor, Cooper has been aiming the handgun up at the floor, but then starts to leave right before the entire house fucking explodes. It’s gorgeous, and I will never forget Sarge for giving me so much werewolf + fire. He’s the BEST.
Under the floor, Cooper manages to survive it; we can see flames overhead, but nothing much happened down where he is. He and Sam sit there for awhile until he hears the wind blowing. As he’s trying to find that exit, he literally runs into a body hanging from the ceiling. Make that bodies. There’s several, and then there’s a fucking werewolf with a sword through him.
Oh, so there’s Ryan. I would have thought he’d pull that sword out of him at some point. Cooper snarks at him about whether he’s tried to lick his own balls yet (probably not with that sword through his torso, but otherwise, I’m sure he would). Ryan grabs him by the throat and hauls him to his feet, then fucking punches him over and over and over, because sure. Finally he grabs him and because of how tall werewolves are, the sword (no, the literal sword, not his cock) is at the right height for him to slowly, dramatically push it into Cooper’s mouth (but yes, metaphorically a cock, this is all very rapey and phallic).
Before it gets too deep, Sam to the rescue, and I swear, Ryan, if you kill another goddamn dog — but then Cooper finds a silver knife, conveniently, and stabs the fuck out of Ryan, making his skin smoke and giving Cooper just enough time to scramble over to where he dropped the handgun, grab it up, and tell Ryan that it’s all over now.
Then he puts a bullet between his eyes and the camera is splattered with blood. [Wing: Note from the future: But seriously, why didn’t any of the previous werewolves die from the billion of bullets the soldiers shot? Did they not hit anything?] [bat: WING HAS QUESTIONS! Now you know how I feel most recaps.]
Dawn has come by the time Cooper climbs back up into the house, through the door in the only partial wall still standing. He dramatically stands there, holding his arm, while the remains of the house burn behind him.
OH! Sarge must have given him the memory card from the camera or the film or something (was that a memory card he was holding earlier? It didn’t really look like it, but okay). Whatever he gave him had to do with the pictures, because as the credits roll, we get to see a number of black and white photos of the werewolves attack, the front page of the Express Mail where the main headline is that England beat Germany at Germany and the smaller story in the corner is “”Werewolves ate my platoon!” which is possibly the greatest headline ever.
And we are done. Oh, movie, I love you.
Like I said above, oh, movie, I love you. Even though Rule of Cool takes over toward the end (THEY’RE BOXING WEREWOLVES!), the movie otherwise is great. I’m not a huge fan of the werewolf design, but I have certainly seen worse, and the transformation scenes were fun. The weird piano break aside, the pacing is mostly wonderful, action scenes interspersed with quieter moments where we can get to know the characters some, and for a movie where I could not visually tell three of the characters apart, each character did get at least a little characterisation, and the threads for each one ran through the entire movie. (Joe’s love of football; the Watch of Great Emotional Import, DOGGO KILLER.)
Megan is an interesting character. She’s set up to be both a pitiful werewolf woman trying to escape what’s been done to her and bait for the soldiers (and possibly the hikers, etc., who have already disappeared), luring them into favourable hunting grounds so the other werewolves can play.
I’m intrigued by the special forces team being sent in to capture a werewolf. Why did they think there was only one werewolf? If they knew enough to come get the damn werewolf in the first place, why didn’t they have better intel on it? Was it just Ryan’s cockiness ignoring information available to him? Were they also an acceptable loss along with Sarge’s squad?
Cooper makes for an interesting final boy. It’s set up nicely, of course, with him refusing to kill the innocent dog at the beginning only to slaughter some of the werewolves, who (except for perhaps Megan) were far from innocent, throughout the rest of the movie, only to end up with the only other survivor, Sam the living doggo.
Actually, Sam is a curiosity, too. He clearly wasn’t scared of the werewolves, and they didn’t eat him or anything. He’s their pet, and that’s not something you see a lot of in werewolf fiction, werewolves with pets at all (…human pets, maybe), but especially with other canines. I like that Sam is comfortable with them, I love that he survived the movie, but I can’t help but wonder if, like Zipper, he’s not also somehow tied to werewolf blood himself. Probably not or he would have shifted, but it’s a curious possibility.
I like the ending set forth in the credits quite a bit, too. It has shades of The Howling and Karen trying to bring the truth out. Sarge is the sacrifice for Cooper being able to tell people what happened, while Karen herself is the sacrifice (actually, she’s another werewolf woman who is pitiful rather than a sexual predator, juxtaposed with Marsha who very much is a sexual predator), but both of them try to warn the world (and actually, both of the movies end with burning down buildings full of werewolves and that whole surprise werewolf in the backseat — I hadn’t thought about the similarities until just now, but I’m seeing a lot of inspiration in Dog Soldiers) and people, of course, waive it off as tabloid fodder or some sort of trick, special effect, etc.
I also love all the throwaway reference lines, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, etc. Super fucking cute.
Basically, I’ve written way too many words in this recap to say this: WEREWOLVES + FIRE = HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY WING.
[bat: I don’t have a lot to add, since Wing’s covered most of it. I do like and appreciate the filmmakers going with practical SFX werewolves instead of shitty CGI. Practical effects are almost always better and lend more believe-ability. Yes, CGI is good for some things, when done correctly. But I will always prefer practical. This was a pretty original story, even if it was a basic plot line, and it has a very typical British ending of WELL IT’S OVER THE END. Which I’m used to. Overall pretty solid and very enjoyable!]
[…] decided to go with Dog Soldiers for her SATM recap in October 2020, which is technically a foreign film, being set in Scotland and […]
[…] This is going to be my ongoing fear during Dog Soldiers all over […]
Excellent review. Having hit up the directors’ commentary a couple times, apparently the dinky silver letter opener ‘weakens’ were!Ryan, neutralizing the magic healing mojo that lets werewolves bounce right back from bullets, knifings & swords through the torso. Hence the sizzling FX & Ryan collapsing for a couple seconds while Cooper grabs the pistol. With that in mind you *could* just figure Megan crawled off to finish healing/transforming before the house got blown up, and can now pick up the pieces without all those packmates & British army squads in her hair. Think Cooper would be cool with splitting dog custody once stuff has cooled down a bit?
Ha, I love this! Thank you. Cooper should be thrilled to split dog custody after all that.
Oh, and just to cut down the squick quotient of that one scene: apparently Sam got a hold of Sarge Wells’ *bandages*, not his actual innards. Though you can (queasily) guess how he picked up *that* reaction to nearly gutted humans.
I’m not sure if this makes it better or worse, to be fair! Because yeah, that is quite a learned reaction to nearly gutted humans.