Dog Soldiers is the best Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie. Fight me on this.

Yes.

The best Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie is Dog Soldiers.

Not convinced? Well. You’re wrong.

British soldier training exercise + Scottish werewolves = Dog Soldiers.

Dog Soldiers is a 2002 “werewolves at the door” movie. It’s gritty. It’s not above embracing its genre flag and winking at the audience (one character is named “Harry G. Wells,” and another, “Bruce Campbell”). If you haven’t seen it yet, it deserves your attention.

Kevin McKidd plays a doctor with a military background on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Could this be a prequel to that show? Yes. Yes, it is.

Kevin McKidd (he of Grey’s Anatomy fame, and I hope that show has made him a millionaire many times over so he can leave network television and make more movies like this) is the lead, British Pvt. Cooper. While being considering for a special forces posting, Cooper refuses to shoot a dog in cold blood. This washes him out of the special forces consideration, and sends him right back to the other grunts.

On a later training exercise, Cooper and his grunts are in the Scottish Highlands. They encounter the remains of a murdered Special Air Service unit they were working with.

(insert comment about lending a hand)

It’s a formulaic start, but notable for an eerie atmosphere and strong performances. Sean Pertwee plays a sergeant. There’s a lone survivor of the SAS, played by Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones fans know him as Davos Seaworth). There’s an old farmhouse and a constant feeling of dread.

There’s homages to Evil Dead, Aliens and the Matrix. Each of the pop culture references still works. The focus remains on the soldiers. The werewolves have little screen time, and the movie is better for it. The creatures are lanky and gross, and a step removed from the full-furred monsters you might expect to see in a film like this. It works better in a lower-resolution, gritty DVD.

This would be the afore-mentioned Scottish werewolf.

The thing is, it works. It all comes together in a satisfying, magical way the other Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies fall just short of. Strong performances—anchored by McKidd—and an effective horror atmosphere make it all work.

The bottom line: Dog Soldiers is the best Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie.

Dog Soldiers: Five Worfs Heads

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