TAD 2022: The Lair dir. by Neil Marshall

Neil Marshall brings us another bad-ass woman named Sinclair with his latest effort The Lair. Marshall’s films have been much loved by After Dark audiences having previously delivered such solid fare as The Descent, Doomsday (the other Sinclair), Dog Soldiers.

Pairing with his lead actress Charlotte Kirk, they penned the script that sees the true reason for the 80s invasion of Afghanistan by Russia, when in the near-present, a Royal Air Force pilot, Sinclair (Kirk) is shot down and to elude pursuers stumbles into a long forgotten (and sought for) Russian bunker.

Chased through the bunker, Sinclair and her enemies come across something no one expected, and she’s barely able to escape with her life before being picked up by an American patrol that takes her back to their base.

At the base, she encounters a special forces unit from her own country and a CO, Finch (Jamie Bamber channelling his inner Nick Fury), who is less than thrilled with his current assignment.

Trouble escalates when the things from the bunker track them down, and Finch informs them of their true nature, and the need to extinguish them once and for all.

I have enjoyed Marshall’s work in the past, but there’s something a little uneven about this one. The pacing and editing seem a little off, and there seem to be more than one or two goofs (characters claiming to be out of bullets, but then keep firing). I think the story feels rushed, if the film had taken its time, and developed its characters, their relationships and the situation a little more it may have played out better.

The Descent works because the first part of the film is all about the women, their relationships, and putting them into an increasingly claustrophobic space before the knife twist reveal. There’s a solid action/horror film here, but it gets a little lost in the rush.

It’s paired this evening with the animated short, The Ratcatcher’s Daughter from Jim Bryson and Adam Jeffcoat. It’s predominantly in shades of black and white, with some great use of colour, as the story progresses and tells a horrific story of a cult of rats and their desire to claim the world as their own in Petrograd.

And, if like me, you’re gonna miss Something in the Dirt from TAD darlings Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (I’ve loved everything they’ve released to date!), then you’ll also miss the unnerving short Anything, Anything from Emma Higgins which gives a terrifying turn (as if it needed one) on domestic abuse. Short, but ingeniously crafted, Higgins delivers a horror tale that scares and serves as commentary.

Toronto After Dark continues, make sure you check out titles and ticket availability, here, and I’ll see you After Dark!

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