“The Lair” – Movie Review

Science gone wrong remains a popular subgenre of both sci-fi and horror (often at their intersection) going all the way back to the monster movies of the 1950s.  In Shudder’s latest exclusive film The Lair, we see extra-terrestrial monster horror set against the backdrop of a war drama and the result is a decent action-horror movie that despite taking itself too seriously at times, ends up being fun.

Foreign Invaders
Amidst sweeping shots on the Hindu Kush mountains in rural Afghanistan, we’re introduced to our protagonist Royal Air Force Captain Kate Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk).  She quickly has to eject from her fighter jet in the middle of nowhere, while being pursued by enemy Taliban combatants.  After a firefight with them, they run into a mysterious facility where something much worse is being housed.

Lair 4
The film was shot entirely in Hungary, but it does a good job doubling for Southwest Asia.

Sinclair meets up with a friendly unit and they fight together (along with one of the captured enemies) against the mutated, extra-terrestrial enemy in a movie that’s one part monster horror and one part war movie.  As far the tropes go for both of these, The Lair leans into them pretty heavily.  After all, who doesn’t love a good rubber suit monster design?

The “monster” itself looks like a cross between the Demogorgon from Stranger Things and the unnamed alien invaders from Independence Day.  The autopsy scene is probably the most interesting in a fun and gruesome way.  Plus it contains what is probably the best kill of the movie, involving a grenade and a very bold move.

Lair 1
When it’s done with practical effects, it looks pretty creepy and cool.

Where the movie suffers a bit is in its portrayal of the unit of soldiers.  It seems to try really hard to do something like Aliens with a fun-loving cadre of soldiers in a horror/sci-fi scenario, but they end up being bland, forgettable, and almost feel like unintentional parodies.  But then again, this isn’t exactly the kind of movie you watch for its compelling character arcs, so it’s not that big a deal.

Rewriting History (Minor Spoilers)
One of the most fascinating aspects of The Lair (at least for a history buff like me) is the way it uses its basic premise to rewrite history itself.  It’s revealed back in 1979, an alien craft crash landed in the mountains in Afghanistan, and that was the real reason the Soviet Union invaded the country at the time, in order to obtain the wreckage and do experiments.

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The only thing the movie doesn’t address is how this place was kept secret after the Soviets left Afghanistan, or during the 20 years the US was occupying it.

As a result, the monster they face is a hybrid of human and alien DNA, cooked up in a lab by mad Soviet scientists.  It’s an interesting concept that seems wasted on a not so interesting execution.  In a lot of ways, The Lair feels like a modern day version of 2018’s Overlord, but without the intentional camp.

Overall, The Lair is a decent action/horror monster movie if you’re just looking for a simple laid back watch.  It’s not exactly the type of movie that’s very rewatchable, but if this is what you’re into, you’ll probably enjoy seeing it once.

What did you think of The Lair?  Let us know in the comments!

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