Now before any of you go up in arms about my review for the new horror movie RELIC, which went straight to drive in theaters and video on demand this past weekend, let me express to you a couple of things. Yes, I know, I’ve seen that the movie is in the 90 percentile range with critics for this movie, but take a look at the low audience score in the 40 percentile range. I am not a huge fan when horror is weird and all artsy fartsy for the sake of being weird and all artsy fartsy. It’s got to have that AND have a point, for example Ari Aster’s Hereditary and Midsommar quickly come to mind. And while Relic does have a point, it is a horror movie metaphor showing how dementia & Alzheimer’s rots not just the mind but the body as well, it didn’t quite get it’s point across because none of the set ups earlier in the film had any sort of pay offs. It’s just weird to be weird. I don’t like that. That’s probably why films of this caliber aren’t my cup of tea. I didn’t like the critically acclaimed The VVITCH or It Comes At Night either. It was all just artsy fartsy without earning any of the themes or motifs buried beneath the surface of the story. It was very frustrating as I really wanted to like this film and I was really digging the visuals and atmosphere the film had set up. It’s sort of a haunted house movie, but with a twist. But when the end credits hit, the one two part question that always comes to mind, “would I ever watch this again or recommend it?” I already knew that my answer was a concrete no.
Also, I was very bored, I paused the movie a bunch of times to do other things around the house because I just couldn’t get into it. What was supposed to be a 90 minute film took me approximately 120 minutes to watch. This is the equivalent of looking at your watch or taking a quick peak at your cell phone clock in the theater. Per IMDB, it describes Relic as such: “A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia/Alzheimer’s that consumes their family’s home.” That short sentence describes the film to a tee. At the beginning of the film the grandmother is missing, the daughter and granddaughter are worried, then the grandmother randomly shows up again, without any explanation of where she was, and that’s when the horror and weird shit starts to happen. The acting in this film, along with the visuals and atmosphere, is the last pro I can give this film. It’s a three woman show essentially, and Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote and Robyn Nevin all do a fantastic job in their perspective roles. Again, the real problem here is the screenplay and not giving the audience any pay offs to the set ups presented earlier in the film. They never show where the grandmother ended up going to where she was missing. Well they kind of do and they kind of don’t. They present two ways, but neither were made clear. That could’ve been an interesting pay off. That and many other instances go untouched or unexplained. I advocate the audience trying to figure things out on their own, but there wasn’t enough hints given. Those could end up being nails in the coffin for interest in a film.
This is director Natalie Erika James’s first big directing gig. She has directed several short films and has worked on horror/thriller projects with bigger named people, such as The Invisible Man and Upgrade’s Leigh Whannell. Her direction is great here, again, the problem is with her script, which she co-wrote with Christian White, who is also getting their bigger break here. They both need to work on their story skills, their structure, and making sure set ups have pay offs. They got the shots down, and if they can conjure up a solid script, then I can confidently say I can’t wait to see that movie. But Relic definitely isn’t it. It does show promise and potential, but is ultimately a disappointment, especially that it debuted with strong critic reviews. And it’s not that I’m a casual movie goer, anybody that knows me knows I am definitely not that. I get what it was trying to do. It just simply wasn’t in my wheelhouse of interest, but was for others. And that’s okay. Not everybody is going to like a particular movie. I’m sure there are people out there that didn’t care for Get Out or Parasite. There is probably someone out there that can convince me that 2019’s Joker is a masterpiece (doubt it though). It happens. Tastes are different. Relic gets the horror right, but not the intelligence for me.