★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Neil Marshall
U.K. creature feature The Lair may not win any awards for originality or win accolades for its characters, but if you are in the mood for action horror with monsters and grue aplenty, it is a fun watch.
Director Neil Marshall recalls his Dog Soldiers days while tossing in a bit of The Descent for good measure with his latest feature, The Lair (U.K., 2022). Marshall and cowriter/star Charlotte Kirk know what they are doing: delivering an action horror/creature feature filled with gunfire and grue, and they deliver on both counts. Viewers looking for deeply considered drama and weighty characterization will come away disappointed, but those who simply want to revel in a fun fright-fare flick with men-in-suits monsters will find plenty to enjoy.
Kirk plays Flight Lieutenant Kate Sinclair, whose plane is shot down in the Afghanistan desert. She escapes Taliban forces and takes refuge in a cave that the Soviets used as a laboratory, where she discovers something hideous and murderous. The ragtag, ne’er-do-well group of U.S. and British soldiers who take her in to their outpost — American senior officer Finch (Jamie Bamber), Welsh SAS man Jones (Leon Ockenden), military doctor Wilks (Mark Strepan), kleptomaniac soldier Lafayette (Tanji Kibong), fellow soldier Hook (Jonathan Howard), and soldier Bromhead (Troy Alexander) — are initially skeptical of her story about her seeing a monster, but captured local Kabir (Hadi Khanjanpour) knows of what she speaks about. The military folks find out the awful truth soon enough when a horde of the beasts attack the outpost at night.
Kirk does a great job as the main protagonist who is fighting for her life so that her young son doesn’t become an orphan. The supporting cast members are mostly given stock roles to play, but the acting is nevertheless solid throughout, though a couple of accents provide some (likely) unintentional chuckles.
If you are here for the monster mayhem, you won’t be disappointed. The suits look great, and there is plenty of the red stuff flowing and body parts being viciously ripped.
Marshall delivers in the action and creature feature departments and he obviously worked with talented technicians and crew members. The Lair is one of the better looking monster movies in recent memory, and should provide a good time for viewers looking for some highly entertaining beast-driven butchery.
Review by Joseph Perry
The Lair, which premiered in the U.K. at FrightFest, was released by RLJE Films in theaters and On Demand and Digital on October 28, 2022. Shudder will release the film in early 2023.
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