Neil Marshall by my reckoning has never been a particularly innovative director though he’s always managed to take a familiar subject and make it feel somewhat novel.
The first time I noticed this tendency was with Doomsday, which I enjoyed but bit also seemed to be mimicking George Miller; not so much that it wasn’t it’s own thing, but enough that it didn’t feel entirely original either.
With The Lair Marshall goes full on John Carpenter, with mixed results. It’s also not a bad movie, though it suffers from an uneven screenplay and some spotty CGI.
For instance, Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk, who co-wrote the movie with Neil Marshall and has a production company with the director) is a British pilot shot down in Afghanistan and some rebels (I assume the Taliban), who are trying to capture her and make of point of saying this.
So why do they keep trying to kill her? On the face of it it makes no sense but I thought that maybe since she was shooting at them, all they were doing was defending themselves.
That is, till one of the rebels decided to use a rocket launcher – which led me to think that maybe the whole ‘let’s take her alive’ thing has probably been abandoned – though it misses her and (conveniently) blows open the door to an abandoned Soviet base that Sinclair made her way to, where they were experimenting with Afghans and an alien from a crashed UFO.
And speaking of that door, it was literally secured with a chains and a garden variety lock.
And you mean to tell me that the Soviets, in leaving the country, would leave their experiments with aliens – ALIENS!!! – behind!?
I get it, it’s a movie that revolves around alien/human hybrids attacking a contingent of soldiers, but that doesn’t mean it exists in a world without either logic or common sense.
Neil Marshall seems to genuinely prefer practical effects in his movies, and most of the blood spatter in The Lair is practical, except when it isn’t (and looks pretty bad).
Then there’s the CGI muzzle flash, which looks worse and happens often enough that you can’t get over it.
The Lair reminds me not only of the work of John Carpenter, but Ghost of Mars John Carpenter, which is a movie I personally enjoy but isn’t Carpenter’s best.
Nor is The Lair the best Neil Marshall has to offer.