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The Lair Main

The Lair Movie Review

Written by Janine Pipe

Released by RLJE Films


Written and directed by Neil Marshall
2022, 90 minutes, Not Yet Rated
FrightFest World Premiere on 25th August 2022

Jonathan Howard as Hook
Charlotte Kirk as Sinclair
Jamie Bamber as Finch
Tanji Kibong as Lafayette


I’ve been excited to see The Lair for a long time. The teaser stills look amazing and the concept is something Neil’s fans have been waiting to hear for a long time – it’s a sort of sister film to Dog Soldiers with a sci-fi twist. A military-based, siege-type scenario and practical monsters. That was the very crux of what we were promised.

I also love Neil and Charlotte Kirk’s first co-written feature, The Reckoning and was keen to see Charlotte in a very different lead role.

Now, before we go any further – a caveat if you will. Both Neil and Charlotte are friends of mine and I am a huge fan of all of his work. That being said, I also had huge expectations, which thankfully were met and exceeded.

the lair 01 the lair 02

The film starts with an actual crash, bang, wallop and we are introduced to Sinclair (Kirk and yes she is a relative of Eden from Doomsday) whilst marvelling at the stunning set and location (Budapest if you can believe it). After being shot down by insurgents and losing her Weapons System Officer , Sinclair finds a scary looking bunker to hide in. We already know this won’t be good and sure enough, with echoes of The Thing and Alien plus a Terminator-like score, we get some fleeting Jaws-esque shots of the ‘ravagers’.

Sinclair escapes the bunker only to be almost shot again by a passing Hummer, thankfully this time they’re friendly and we meet the hodgepodge of US and UK soldiers who’ve been seconded to the unit in the middle of the desert. They also capture the only remaining insurgent – Kabir (played by the talented Hadi Khanjanpour and a brilliant character).

Amongst this band of merrymen and women we have: Hook (a fabulous Jonathan Howard), Finch (Jamie Bamber channelling his inner Kurt Russell, resplendent with southern US drawl and eye-patch), Lafayette (a badass kleptomaniac played by the phenomenal Tanji Kibong) alongside Leon Okenden who plays Welshman Jones, Troy Alexander playing Bromhead and others. If you’ve seen any of Neil’s films before you understand the Number One Rule – do NOT get attached to anyone.

the lair 03 the lair 04

Naturally, when Sinclair bowls in with tales of secret bunkers and scary monsters, they initially think she’s batshit crazy. That’s until Kabir corroborates her story and we get another terrific set piece, which Neil is famous for. A night-time watch with some classic military banter just before all hell breaks loose and those practical special effects come into their own demonstrating the fake blood budget must have been sky high again. Yay!

The stakes are high and the gang are running out of options. Now faced with the dual threat of insurgents and monsters, they take matters into their own hands and we are treated to a magnificent final showdown in the bunker with some wonderful fight sequences and excellent kills.

It's fair to say I love The Lair. I think it’s a lot of fun as well as heavy on the violence and gore. The pacing works with the right amount of tension without cheating the audience out of action. The characters are great (I’d want Layfayette on my side any day) and the dialogue and decisions they make are authentic and reasonable, especially since this is after all a movie, people – a pretend scenario and all that. The ‘ravagers’ design is disgusting and incredible and during the complete homage to The Thing – the autopsy scene – you can almost smell the rankness. And the noises… Oh boy .

The cinematography is stunning at times with sweeping shots of the desert, and the bunker location in particular ticks all the right boxes for claustrophobia with a colour pallet reminiscent of both Alien and Event Horizon.

the lair 05 the lair 06

Did I love it as much as Dog Soldiers?

No. But come on, let’s face it – that is impossible.

Of course, people will make comparisons and Neil himself describes it as his film that is most like the 2002 fan-favourite. But I would also urge people to see it as it is intended – a standalone creature feature that just happens to be set in a military world. I would love to hear if other Dog Soldiers fans picked up on the in-jokes and nods – there are a couple of lines where I actually hugged myself in joy and one scene in particular involving a frying pan…

My one and only complaint? No Sean Pertwee (he was tied up on another shoot) but thankfully Neil and Charlotte’s next film, The Duchess, brings them all back together.


Movie: 5 Star Rating Cover
Buy Amazon Uk

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About The Author
Janine Pipe
Staff Reviewer - UK
Janine has enjoyed horror from an early age, frightening herself with ghost stories and learning the craft from Stephen King. After trading in a police badge and an apple for the teach (ing assistant) er, she decided to try her hand at something she loved – writing her own scary stuff. She has many terrifying tales published and has been nominated for a 2020 Splatterpunk Award. She hopes her mum never reads a certain story about a hole in a tree … As well as reading and writing, she is an editor and publicist for Kandisha Press with her BFF Jill, where she is always on the lookout for new women’s voices for their anthologies. Her favourite authors and influences are quite obvious when you read her work. But she’d like to remind you they are: Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. When not writing, reading or reviewing, Janine can be found at home with her husband and daughter, planning their next trip to Walt Disney World and drinking obscene amounts of coffee.
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