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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, February 27, 2023

The Lair (2022)

Director Neil Marshall is back with a new monster movie. When this hit Shudder I couldn’t wait to check it out and I wasn’t disappointed. Things kick off with a British pilot, Kate Sinclair, and her back seater getting shot down in Afghanistan. They parachute safely to he ground but the insurgents who downed their aircraft are on them immediately. They end up in a firefight where Sinclair is the only survivor. She heads off but enemy reinforcements arrive, and she is forced to take shelter in an abandoned Russian bunker. Here is where things get interesting.

It seems that the Russians were experimenting with a downed alien spacecraft or more specifically the passenger! They have created some alien/human hybrids that are bloodthirsty but safely locked up. That is until the gunbattle in the lab frees them. Sinclair is again the only survivor and is picked up by an American patrol. But the critters are loose and end up attacking the base. Soon the survivors are forced to either wait to die or go back to the lab and destroy the nest. This leads to more firefights with insurgents and some neat monster gore and violence.

I enjoyed the heck out of The Lair. Marshall has always been good for some military versus creature action (Dog Soldiers) as well as creepy claustrophobic horror (The Descent) and I thought he pulled off both nicely here. The soldier characters are developed enough that fans of the genre will know what archetype they fall into. There is the angry leader who won’t end well but is likeable. The screw up that runs away… dude you died on a toilet! Some general badasses who talk shit to each other. These are just a few examples of what you get. There is even the local who starts off as an enemy but obviously due to backstory has an axe to grind with the creatures and becomes an ally.

The Setting is great... very spooky!
I suppose that in many ways these characters and how the story plays out in such a predictable way is why this movie is getting savaged by so many fans. Yeah, I read the reviews before I watched and honestly didn’t care. But as I’ve stated in the past some movies can just be comfortable fun and don’t need to be “art”. When did making an ultra-violent fast paced action creature feature with characters dropping funny one-liners become unacceptable? Neither the director nor the cast are taking things too seriously and are just trying to entertain the audience and I think they succeeded marvelously.

We get dozens of kills, many of which are of the standard getting shot variety. But there is also some gut-munching (a favorite here at the site), face ripped off, jaw ripped off, head off, a fist thru the face, a double grenade while holding them monster dispatching, and a flare to the chest. But my personal favorite was half a head getting munched off in one bite… sadly off screen but the post chomp scene lingers enough to be enjoyable. This is a very violent and bloody movie and was just the sort of thing that I wanted when I saw the trailer and heard the plot synopsis. And I almost forgot the alien autopsy by skill saw! 

Tentacle time
If that doesn’t get you then let me tell you about the creature design. They are humanoid but very alien looking at the same time. Giant gaping maws filled with sharp teeth are scary, but then they also spring some mouth tentacles that just don’t grab you but sort of caress the victims in an uncomfortable way that only adds to the horror. Marshall also sets much of the action, basically anything not the night attack on the base, in the underground lab. As I’ve already mentioned the man knows how to make you feel claustrophobic and creeped out in such a location.

The Lair checks all the expected boxes with a gleeful and maniacal energy that I just couldn’t help but love it. Currently the movie is streaming on Shudder, and I highly recommend you check it out. I know that the year is still young, but this is the best thing I’ve watched so far.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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