Lt. Kate Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk) is a highly skilled Royal Air Force pilot. Her plane is gunned down when flying over Afghanistan, but she luckily survives the crash. After escaping her wreckage, she is hunted down and forced to run on foot with no safe place to hide. Soon, by a stroke of luck, she finds a locked bunker and manages to enter it. Climbing down the ladder inside it the bunker, she hides deep underground. Unfortunately, she finds a secret within this bunker: a monstrous biological weapon, half-human and half-alien. Her enemies pursue Kate into the bunker, and during a shootout, they accidentally awaken the creatures. Now running from a half-human and half-alien monster with a thirst for blood, Kate barely escapes the bunker alive. Rescued by friendly troops, Kate and a small group of skilled soldiers must work together to investigate the bunker and defeat the ultimate threat before it reaches the entire world.
The Lair is best described as a horror film with plenty of action-packed moments. Following a similar vibe to the Resident Evil films, Kate is a fierce fighter who has flown twenty-eight combat missions and done three tours. Now doing everything she can to survive and escape Afghanistan and dealing with the addition of a killing creature, Kate feels this is her biggest challenge and discovers a fear she has never felt before.
A few minor elements are great to witness, but sadly, this film doesn’t live up to some of the Director’s previous work, and several aspects let this film down significantly. Visually, the creature design is pleasing but familiar to franchises like Resident Evil, Doom and Aliens. The atmosphere is excellent, almost as if Director Neil Marshall is returning to a world similar to what we once saw in films like The Descent, with scary creatures, darkness and a mysterious bunker. The audio track is great and delivers a score that instantly reminded me of Blade Runner in the opening scene.
The acting here is all around cringeworthy, primarily due to the corny dialogue where our leads act tough and talk up a big game. Some of the film’s characters (including Major Finch) have awful and laughable accents. There are also continuity errors with Kate’s makeup, such as in the opening scene where she has a bloody face and nose, only to have a clean face in the next scene as if nothing ever happened. These moments are highly distracting, making it impossible to take the film seriously.
Overall, with a few good ingredients, such as fun yet familiar creature design, gritty violence, and a dark atmosphere, I feel the Director is returning to some of his old stomping grounds, such as The Descent. But sadly, with only a few minor rewards, the film suffers from corny lines of dialogue, poor accents and continuity errors, which are apparent and distracting. While beginning strong, the film slowed down, and I became dramatically disengaged and felt less entertained as it moved forward. Fans of Director Neil Marshall should still invest time and check this one out, but I can’t deny it’s another weak feature. The Lair (2023) is Available on Shudder from January 26th.