Sunday, November 27

The Lair movie review & film summary (2022)

“The Lair” kicks off with its most eye-catching and dramatically urgent scenes: scrappy Royal Air Force Captain Sinclair (Kirk) is quickly shot out of the sky by Afghan fighters, without warning or unnecessary narrative throat-clearing. A fellow RAF man, Johnson (Alex Morgan), dies while trying to save Sinclair. “Sorry …” he says before a short pause. “For the inconvenience.”

Sinclair then flees from her attackers into an abandoned bunker, which contains the toothy monster that’s understandably all over this movie’s posters and advertising. It’s a neat-looking monster, even if it doesn’t look like it cost an arm and a leg (in real life), and was also maybe the product of Russian experimentation (in the movie), since the bunker it escaped from features some decorative Cyrillic warnings. Of particular note: “Do not open.”

Sinclair doesn’t read or speak Russian, but Kabir (Hadi Khanjanpour), a sympathetic Afghani soldier, does. He tags along with Sinclair to a nearby military base, where their respective wounds are tended to and some perfunctory getting-to-know-you information is exchanged. Sinclair also tries to warn Major Roy Finch (Jamie Bamber) and his group of disaffected stock types, like Everett (Mark Arends), the rookie, and Lafayette (Kibong Tanji), the klepto.

But Finch and his squad, which also includes three Brits led by the unflappable Sergeant Oswald Jones (Leon Ockenden), don’t believe in monsters, and also don’t know anything about the Russian base that Sinclair’s just escaped. Maybe she hallucinated it all? Kabir disagrees and in a short amount of time, so does the monster, who descends on Finch’s group and makes short work of them. Meanwhile, the surrounding Afghani soldiers are still armed, nearby, and unhappy.

Much of your enjoyment of “The Lair” depends on how you feel about its performances and dialogue, since so much of the movie repeats the same war and horror movie clichés that were already rote by the time that John Carpenter and company messed around with them in both “Assault on Precinct 13” and “The Thing.” Sinclair even refers to Finch’s group as “The Dirty Dozen” and his outpost is marked by a chintzy-looking sign that reads: “Welcome to Fort Apache.” These callbacks are not necessarily mood-killers, but Kirk’s indifferent line delivery and the sign’s setup-as-punchline presentation might be. And as far as zingers go, “Batter up, you son of a bitch,” (spoken by Finch) isn’t praiseworthy or lamentable. 

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