A horror film from newcomer director/co-writer Natalie Erika James called Relic builds tension and anxiety through the film’s run time and avoids many of the old cliches in this take on the haunted house formula.
When Edna (Robyn Nevin) disappears, her daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) head to their old family home to see if they can figure out what happened. When Edna returned after a few days missing, fears of dementia begin to take hold. Soon though, they realize that something more sinister was going on.
There is a lot of psychological thriller involved in this film, which helps create a slow burn tense tone and a feeling of uncertainty about what is going on. It does not feel the need to explain everything that is happening, which I like. It allows the audience to make those own judgments of what is occurring.
The film has a lot to say about the onslaught of dementia and the way an elderly person can change and become someone you do not know. They just do it here in a more supernatural manner. Good horror uses these types of metaphors to get their message across.
The movie avoided the use of jump scares and instead built the stress naturally and was able to keep the audience off kilter. The characters here were the important part of the story and helped bring a connection with the viewer as things continued to devolve.
Relic is a horror movie that has something to say and it does so with a singular voice and a frightening message. The conclusion of the film can stay with you for awhile. Great performances in the three actresses help to make this a great horror movie. I am not sure I like the title “Relic” for this movie though.