2022 | rated R | starring Charlotte Kirk | directed by Neil Marshall | 1h 36m |

Let’s end 2022 with something truly terrible. I’ve been a fan/defender of Neil Marshall for a while now. While both The Descent and Dog Soldiers certifiable cult classics, Marshall has tendency to make campy junk just as easily, pouring a lot of money and capital into Doomsday and the recent Hellboy reboot. The Lair is a bridge too far. It’s not cheesy, campy, fun. It’s just awful from top to bottom in a way that can’t even be enjoyed ironically.

Air Force pilot Kate Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk, Marshall’s co-writer) is shot down over Afghanistan in 2017. Finding herself surrounded by Taliban terrorists, Kate seeks shelter in a secret Russian base inside the mountain where inside she finds pods of half-human/half-alien monsters. Rescue by a rag-tag group of military rejects, the crew venture into the cave to seal it off and stop the monsters before the MOAB gets dropped and… seals it off for good.

I am baffled as to what possessed Marshall to make this movie. Whatever happened during the production, whether it was financially strapped, pushed for time or whatever, I can’t believe this movie wasn’t completely scrapped. This is direct-to-video mockbuster junk. The performances are terrible, the writing is awful, the action scenes are lame, the setting is claustrophobic, the monsters look like stunt men in rubber suits. The tropes are plentiful. There wouldn’t be a movie without them.

We’ve got the interchangeable group of soldiers – the Dirty Half-Dozen as Kate calls them. Monsters that just kind of swipe at you with their claws. The countdown to the bomb drop. We’ve got the sympathetic Afghani who only fights with the Taliban because his family is threatened. The heroic sacrificial explosion. This is one of the funniest scenes in the movie, when our hero grabs the detonator and charges toward the horde of monsters, simply running out of the frame and the big sacrificial explosion happens off camera. A lot of the kills also happen off camera, at one point Marshall cuts into a soldier with a partial ripped off face clearly lacking the money to produce the special effects required to make the transition from face to faceless convincingly.

I’m assuming it’s all a lack of money and I’m assuming it’s because even in 2022 a studio wouldn’t want to finance a film where Afghani fighters are depicted as terrorists – even when one of them isn’t. The problem is this year we also got Terrifier 2 which on a shoestring budget showed how immersive and convincing your film can be with a little creativity and filmmaking know-how. Marshall is just being lazy here.

The film proports to be the “true” story around the dropping of the MOAB in 2017 (a fun idea) and is structured very broadly like Dog Soldiers where a military squad on a mission ends up fighting something monstrous, but any hopes that Marshall has returned to his roots get dashed at every turn and misstep. You know what type of movie this is. Previous generations had Canon Films, after that we had direct-to-video releases you’d find next to the Hollywood hits at Blockbuster, then we had Assylum Studio Mockbusters and now we have SyFy Channel originals. Every generation has their mutant version of these trash movies that evolve with new media and technology, searching for the lowest common denominator and the hopes of making some cash on genre curiosity or simply confusion with a bigger film. They are just never, ever, made by a director as talented and well known as Neil Marshall.

Awful, brainless and depressing, The Liar is one of the worst movies of 2022.