There is absolutely no reason why I should enjoy this film, let alone own a copy. I am scared, properly unenjoyably terrified, by horror films. I dislike movies which glorify the armed forces. I hate gore, and suspense, and being made to guess in which order the whole cast are going to die and in which inventive way the next person is going to snuff it. I especially hate films which have an all-male cast running round casually toting enormous guns with a token female in a vest top thrown in as an afterthought.
So as you can imagine it’s quite a relief to find I must not be quite the Grinch-y, bitter, humourless scaredy-cat I affect to be most of the time, because I adore Dog Soldiers. At last count it’s one of only two horror films in my collection (hold out for 28 Days Later at some point), and on a rewatch I believe the reason why can be attributed to one thing alone: It’s all down to the Geordies.
I saw Blue Juice before I had much concept of Cornwall as a semi-independent sovereign state clinging reluctantly on to the tail end of England. But even then (what was it, about 1996? Taped off the telly and one of the only things my older brother and I could agree on to watch, anyway) I could see it was a different kind of place. There were surfers where I came from, sure. But this was surf culture. In the north, anyone who was daft enough to venture into the sea was too busy getting their circulation back and self-treating incipient frost bite to retain the energy to think up new slang and grow their hair long. Quiksilver hoodies, beach raves and flip flops as functional outdoor wear were all exotic concepts of which we could only dream.
The surfing stuff is obviously going to be the draw of this film for some people (extreme sports fans, neoprene enthusiasts), and apparently the actors all had training beforehand. But endearingly they’re pretty obviously all rubbish at it, except for Sean Pertwee’s JD who you barely see in action until the big set piece at the end when he’s obviously being doubled. There might be some token chat about ‘perfect barrels’, ‘six foot and clean’ and the like, but I sort of appreciate the film doesn’t try to cram in too many duplicated scenes of virtuosity to make their point or drag in the enthusiasts. In the end, this is not really a surf film in the same way that Riding Giants is, or that – god help us – Blue Crush tries to be. Continue reading →