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Toronto After Dark Review: ‘The Lair’ is a Back-to-Basics Creature Feature with a Modern-Warfare Twist

October 21, 2022Ben MK

What if aliens were not only real, but that the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was just a massive government conspiracy to harvest the power of alien biotechnology to create deadly alien-human hybrids unlike anything the Earth has ever seen? That's the premise behind Neil Marshall's The Lair, an action-packed horror thriller that not only follows in the footsteps of Dog Soldiers and The Descent, but also borrows a page from such genre favorites as Resident Evil and The Suicide Squad.

Set in 2017 Afghanistan, the story revolves around Captain Kate Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk), a Royal Air Force pilot who finds herself stranded in the remote province of Nangahar, after both she and her wingman are shot down by Taliban insurgents. Seeking refuge from enemy fire in an abandoned Soviet black site once used by the Russians to conduct horrific genetic experiments on unsuspecting Afghan citizens, Kate discovers that there's something far worse than being taken as a prisoner of war. So when she's rescued by a group of U.S. soldiers from the Second Ranger Battalion and brought back to their base of operations, Kate is understandably relieved to make her way back into friendly territory. Little do any of these military men and women realize, however, that the bloodthirsty creatures Kate encountered deep within that Russian bunker won't rest until all of them are dead. And the only way to stop them is to take the fight back to where it all began — before the U.S. Air Force drops the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in its arsenal on the site to obliterate all evidence of its existence.

Also starring Skylines' Jonathan Howard and Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber, what follows eschews any hint of narrative complexity and genuine character development in favor of no-nonsense set pieces pitting our band of heroes against an army of attackers resembling Venom on steroids. Still, what The Lair lacks in plot it more than makes up for with action. And while it falls short of the high bar set by Marshall's earlier films, there's something to be said for its back-to-basics approach to the age-old battle between man and monster.

The Lair makes its North American premiere at the 2022 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 36 min.

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