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‘The Lair’ Review: Neil Marshall’s New Monster Film Has Great Effects, but Lacks Substance

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Neil Marshall, the filmmaker behind horror fan-favorites such as Dog Soldiers, The Descent and 2019’s Hellboy has released a new action-horror film, The Lair. The director’s last horror film, The Reckoning, released in 2020 to mixed reviews, so fans have been anxiously waiting for the release of another horror entry, especially after Marhsall’s Emmy nomination for his Game of Thrones direction in 2012.

The Lair is co-written by Marshall and Charlotte Kirk (The Reckoning), who also stars in the film. Kirk is joined by Jonathan Howard (Thor: The Dark World), Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica), and Kibong Tanji.

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The Lair follows Air Force pilot Lieutenant Kate Sinclair (Kirk), who is shot down over the desert in Afghanistan after a dogfight. Seeking cover from attacking gunmen, Sinclair finds herself in a secret military bunker, doubling as a scientific research facility that houses experimental monsters. After escaping the facility, she comes across a small until of rag-tag American soldiers, led by Major Finch (Bamber). Sinclair tries to warn the group, and they must defend their base from both a plethora of vicious monsters and the attacking gunmen.

Rather Good Films & Superfine Films

Starting with the best part of the film; the practical effects and monster makeup. The creatures are just plain cool looking, and reminiscent of Resident Evil’s Lickers, in a good way. For those horror fans that were looking forward to Marshall’s usual attention to having goopy creatures and blood splashing from all directions, you’ll be pleased with this area of the movie.

It doesn’t quite get to the levels of characters carrying their own intestines around like in Dog Soldiers, or hiding in actual pools of blood like The Descent, but there are some great jaw-slapping, tongue-wiggling moments in this one.

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Unfortunately, everything wasn’t practical. There were a lot of CG moments mixed in throughout the film. Most of the monster stuff was excellent, but the film went back-and-forth with using CG on explosions, vehicles, missiles, etc… which just didn’t look great. Too much time was spent on the action-military aspect of the film, instead of monster moments we all lined up for.

There were a lot of great camera shots, too. Specifically, the environmental cinematography that captured the beautiful filming locations of Hungary looked great, particularly toward the start of the film. As the movie went on, fewer broad shots were used, but the sets were neat, giving off a very Resident Evil-style aesthetic.

The story was about as plain as they come. It wasn’t necessarily bad, by any means, but outside of a cool otherworldly spin towards the final act, I feel like I’d seen this exact story in many SYFY channel exclusives. In this day and age, horror movies have to be innovative, unique, and creative. Sometimes you can give a little bit on that, if everything else excels, but The Lair fell short in a lot of areas.

Rather Good Films & Superfine Films

While the acting was fine for the most part, the film could have used a seasoned dialogue writer, as many of the characters’ conversations felt unrealistic and cookie-cutter, even for a monster movie. I didn’t really find myself becoming attached to any of the characters in the film, and there were certainly no “Juno moments” in The Lair, like there was in The Descent. I had my pick between rooting for a bunch of characters I didn’t care about, a bunch of nameless, faceless Middle Eastern militants (can we just stop with this trope, already?), and some bloodthirsty mutant monsters. I was 100% on team monster in this one.

Overall, I was disappointed in The Lair. 2022 has offered some truly fantastic horror films (X, Fresh, Pearl, Hellraiser), and this one definitely gets lost in the lower echelon quality-wise. It’s unfortunate, because I’m a pretty big fan of Marhsall’s past work, and was looking forward to a return to high-level horror, but the lack of substance and the straight-to-SYFY channel feel in this one are more distracting than the monster effects, even with as impressive and fun as they were.


 

Fuente: https://www.horrorgeeklife.com/2022/11/16/the-lair-neil-marshall-review/

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