The Lair (2022)
Director (and co-writer): Neil Marshall
Cast: Charlotte Kirk, Jonathan Howard, Jamie Bamber, Tanji Kibong, Leon Ockenden, Mark Strepan, Hadi Khanjanpour, Troy Alexander
When Royal Air Force pilot Lt. Kate Sinclair is shot down over Afghanistan, she finds refuge in an abandoned underground bunker where deadly man-made biological weapons – half human, half alien – are awakened. – IMDB
Its been almost 20 years since The Descent and yet, its still the bar we set when we talk about Neil Marshall’s films. When his latest film The Lair, its sold as a revisit to the underground caves in this action sci-fi horror film which shows a lot of promise. If it were to be more accurate, The Lair feels a little more like a blend of Dog Soldiers and The Descent and pretty much a creature feature.
It starts off with the film being a recount of disturbing events that happened prior to it being bombed. That being said, it already sets up the story that there is going to be some kind of time sensitive situation in play right from the get-go. The film feels like a B-movie as a whole and one that probably might have that eventual cult classic sort of feeling, something like Deep Rising. There’s some pretty odd dialogue in places and the camera work has fun with some of the scenes moving quickly from one person to the next in the room. However, the film has this comedic undertone (actually, it might be a step higher than an undertone and some bits being pretty obvious). The deal is that with a film like this, it always dials down to whether its meant to be funny which I wholeheartedly believe the humor is meant to be there.
The film stars a strong female lead Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk) who doesn’t hold a lot of backstory other than a little bit on her family. She gives off a bit of Milla Jovovich’s vibe both in her outfit and the way that she delivers her lines. Her character has the most backstory from the beginning scene to her array of abilities. The film takes the direction that this group is there solely gathered to get through this situation together so all the characters are built based on how they react to it from the decisions they make. The US army group is a ragtag team of soldiers that all have their own set of issues and along the way, they end up picking up a man Kabir (Hadi Khanjanpour) who is on the enemy side but turns out to be forced into it as well and ends up teaming up with the team as well. Kabir is not exactly a main character but he gets some of the best dialogue of the entire film and there’s some really great action moments for him also.
As for the creature, I don’t want to go into detail too much. Its a bit sad that the poster that I’ve opted to not use does reveal it so its not exactly a spoiler to talk about the appearance itself. The creature basically looks a bit like Venom. The moments with this creature is where we see all the blood and gore. This is probably where the horror lies in the film even though I personally don’t think its a particularly scary film as a whole.
Overall, The Lair is an average film. It touches lightly on sci-fi and horror but delivers in spades with the action. Its tight runtime and fast-paced action does it a lot of favors as the film never slows down enough for you to reflect too much on the whole situation but just takes its audience for a ride. While there is some clunky dialogue and below average acting, the film itself does have some fun elements. Looking at it from a B-movie perspective, a lot of the elements slot into place especially with the dark humor that it carries throughout. Its far from a great film but as a B-movie creature feature, there’s some entertaining elements here.