Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Neil Marshall, responsible for incredible horror movies like The Descent and Dog Soldiers has struggled to recapture his success in recent times. Now, teaming up with co-writer and lead actor Charlotte Kirk, he attempts to go back to his roots with The Lair.
Kirk plays Captain Kate Sinclair, a pilot, who is on a mission in Afghanistan when she and her co-pilot are shot down by members of the Taliban. They kill her co-pilot, but she is able to fend them off and escape into an abandoned Soviet bunker.
She is forced to go deeper in, finding emaciated bodies, experimental equipment, and human-sized tanks with something floating in the murky waters inside. The Taliban have pursued her and during a gunfight, whatever is inside the tank is freed. It inadvertently helps her escape by killing her pursuers and she escapes, ending up at a small US/UK base run by a skeleton group of soldiers. Each as obnoxious and annoying as each other, with accents that range between laughably bad and near impossible to understand.
If you were on board with this movie up to this point, it’s here that the downhill curve begins and unfortunately, it never recovers.
Of course, no-one at the base believes Sinclair’s story, aside from being attacked by the Taliban. They will though, as night is falling and they’re about to get some visitors.
This is a bad movie. One that features yawn-inducing cliches, incredibly dumb decisions, a cast of characters it is impossible to like, and a monster that just doesn’t inspire. To call this a tired experience is to undersell just how little originality exists throughout. The attempt to mash up the monster in the underground angle of The Descent with the motley crew of soldiers that exists in Dog Soldiers fails quite spectacularly.
No-one is likable and no-one is putting in a good performance, a major problem when you consider we’re supposed to be rooting for these people.
Another failure is the use of Afghanistan as a location and the Taliban as a ‘third’ entity. With most of the movie taking place at the small base and in the bunker, there really doesn’t seem any reason for it to take place where it is. In fact, it now severely dates the movie. Likewise, the Taliban are just here to up the body count and could be any other faceless goons. Not taking advantage of the unique location and doing more nuanced things with the Taliban is a missed opportunity.
Even the monster, which looks ok when CGI isn’t utilised, is overtly familiar.
So, what does The Lair do well? It has some solid practical effects (the jaw rip is awesome) and an action-packed finale that might make the adrenaline spike a little. This is not enough to make The Lair worth watching though. It’s a trite experience that fails to spark at any stage.
The Lair (2022)
The Final Score - 2/10