relic was directed by Natalie Erika James this is her feature debut it had its premiere at Sundance earlier this year and this weekend it’s gonna be showing at some drive-ins as well as VOD on July 10th Emily Mortimer plays Kay a woman who’s going back to her mother’s house because she’s very concerned about her health and well-being she brings along her daughter Sam played by Bella Heathcote and she uncovers something very dark and disturbing about her mother as well as the house this film is going to be compared to the babadook quite often both films deal with a similar subject matter a woman who’s dealing with some kind of mental issue and it’s manifesting itself in a physical way or in a way that can be seen it’s changing the environment around it it’s obviously an inspiration to Relic and although I wouldn’t say that it in any way rips off the babadook it’s undoubtedly the easiest way to explain this movie because Relic is a movie that is going to split and divide some people I think that if you go into Relic expecting a straightforward horror film with a ghost a demon or a monster you’re going to be disappointed just as the people who watched the babadook who wanted to see a monster.
who wanted to have something jump out of the shadows were disappointed relics story is far more metaphorical it’s much more of an allegory we’re watching an older woman whose mind is deteriorating and the environment around her is literally deteriorating and her granddaughter and daughter respectively are witnessing this and because of the personal attention to detail and the fact that this situation is very familial it feels all the more disturbing sometimes you do see something physical manifest itself in the house and you’re wondering what that could be at least for the first act because the film does an excellent job of keeping what’s going on a mystery for a while it has some side stories and you’re wondering if there’s any connection there’s a neighbor who says that they were locked in a closet in this house for a while and they can see scratch marks on the doors inside that closet there’s a lot of attention given to windows that were reinstalled from another place into this house and you’re wondering if that brought something here if something has attached itself to this house but once you uncover what’s actually going on the film becomes more unsettling because like all good horror films.
The horror doesn’t necessarily come from jump scares or sound effects or a terrifying image. It’s really based around the characters. You feel more afraid in terror if you care about the people you’re watching because you start to feel fear for them. In this film, I did care about these characters because I understood this scenario very well watching someone you love lose their mind. Natalie Erika James finds smart ways to show these things depicted on the screen physically how can you show an older woman losing her mind from the lens of horror well she might grab her family binder filled with photos and just feel the need to bury it outside in this fit of rage that’s a really really great idea.
And this movie is filled with those Emily Mortimer is also fantastic in the film as is Bella Heathcote but the standout here is Robin Nevin as Edna she has moments where she’s lucid, and she able to speak to her daughter and granddaughter, and she seems totally reasonable and then she has these fits of rage anger and sadness that are really terrifying to watch this is a really brilliant actress she does a fantastic job in the movie there’s also a slow-building creeping horror during the first act that I found really useful it’s precisely the way I like my first action-horror to be tons of unanswered questions you have no idea what’s going on for a long time, and I love when if filmmaker respects the audience like that they’d let you go on a journey they made you have unanswered questions, and they trust that you’re not gonna shoot at the screen if you don’t get those answers immediately, but the film had a few missteps for me is in the concept behind what this house
The thing that is essentially tormenting this woman’s mind and her daughter and granddaughter how they show that just how much power it has how much ability it has there are times where you see a shadowed silhouette form walking around following people, and I thought that maybe overstepped the boundaries a few their rules that sort of made it seem all-powerful like it could just do anything there’s a sequence where a hallway just keeps shrinking and shrinking, and a woman who’s trying to crawl through it only finds herself trapped in a dead-end I understand the meaning behind this sequence, but one of the issues I had with it is that in the babadook, for instance, we know that this creature is basically a manifestation of this woman’s grief and depression and it pretty much solely affects her whereas
In this movie, this thing seems like I can do anything, and it can leave the room go away from the older woman encounter the daughter and the granddaughter. It just feels like the rules aren’t exactly clear at the same time dementia affects the entire family, not only the person suffering from it. So I can understand that too, and if that was the excuse that filmmakers used while they were making the movie, I guess that would work for me it’s just that while you’re watching it the first time, it can seem unclear the message or the point for a while because it looks like there’s a thing that’s following them around until you realize what’s going on under the surface so please, I was hoping you wouldn’t go into Relic expecting a monster movie or a ghost movie because you’re going to be disappointed it’s a film with a very, very polarizing ending that I thought was brilliant. It’s going to make a lot of people.