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John’s Horror Corner: Lair (2022), Neil Marshall’s latest and quite underwhelming creature feature.

January 22, 2023

MY CALL: Eh, it’s a thing to watch with decent effects and gore and some passable monster action. But ask yourself how excited you’d be to see it if a no-name filmmaker was behind it. Because that’s how it felt. MORE MOVIES LIKE Lair: This feels like a Resident Evil (2002) sequel, but with weak acting, weak writing and careless monsters. Lair also reminds me of a much higher budget and much more monstrous D4 (2011).

After her fighter jet is shot down in Afghanistan, Captain Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk;The Reckoning) escapes armed hostiles fleeing to shelter in an abandoned, underground, Russian bunker. The facility is housing humanoid biological samples in tanks, and the staff has been reduced to long-dead skeletal remains. During freefire with the Afghanis, a tank is broken, washing its hulking contents to the floor… and it awakens. Aaaaand, MOVIE!

Sinclair is picked up by a unit of soldiers—including Sgt. Hook (Jonathan Howard; Skylines, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), Major Finch (Jamie Bamber; Pulse 2), Sgt. Jones (Leon Ockenden;The Reckoning, Dread), and many others. They team together to face this humanoid bunker experiment-gone-wrong.

Our monsters look monstrous, but move entirely like people with chafed inner thighs. I actually found this annoying. They scurry from one point of gunfire cover to another in the battlefield, they apparently have a clumsily haphazard 20’ vertical jump that feels really forced on viewers’ suspension of disbelief, and basically every time they swipe a big gnarly claw at a soldier he’s dead. So the action is kind of basic. And the monsters seem way too wisely tactical despite still roaring with their arms widespread like idiots and behaving otherwise like, well, feral quasi-intelligent monsters. They kind of feel like generic brand Resident Evil (2002) monsters—like bipedal “lickers” with twin-prehensile tongue-tentacles. Director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Hellboy) has a strong history making movies with engaging monsters, but this is not one of them.

Right, but how about the acting? The acting is moderate to poor, with no impressive performances to boast despite a varied cast of quirky soldier characters. But the real fault here is in the writing itself. The dialogue ranges from bland to painfully stiff, basic lines. It doesn’t even sound like how anyone would naturally talk at times. And the story…? Well, our soldiers basically got dropped into a videogame called “Russian Alien Experiment Shoot’em Up.” That’s pretty much the story. And that’s perfectly fine by me. I’m just saying that neither a cool story or plot development are creating saving graces here.

So what’s good about this movie? The blood, monsters, wound latex work, and gore were… decent. Not bad. But not enough to merit something I’d recommend someone watch. I’m not sure what happened here, but this does not feel like a Neil Marshall film to me at all. This feels like a whole lot of early 2000s, direct-to-video “meh” with some passable horror action and guts. I mean, it was moderately entertaining. But this totally forgettable flick fell far below my expectations.

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