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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Review: Relic

Director: Natalie Erika James
Screenplay: Natalie Erika James
Year: 2020

“Relic” has been labeled as a contemporary classic, a horror cinema mastery, and so many other adjectives that leads to thinking that you are about to witness the biggest thing that has been produced in recent times. My question to all these fellow movie critics is: what movie did you watch? Or maybe the problem is me and that the time I have spent in lockdown hasn’t set well and my own dementia got in between the movie and me. 

After not being able to get in contact with her mother, Kay goes to her house alongside her daughter Sam to try and find her, where they find several signs that the old lady’s dementia has continued to intensify. After a few days of having no success in locating her, the old lady appears in the house as if nothing had happened and not being able to remember where she had been. The behavior of the old lady becomes increasingly erratic and Kay and Sam suspect that it is the product of an entity that dwells in the house.

An Australian movie from IFC Midnight that portrays a psychological issue as an evil entity is impossible to think that is not trying to follow the steps of “The Babadook”, a true contemporary classic. However, this is the only resemblance between these two movies. The debut work of director and screenwriter Natalie Erika James falls far from being considered to be at the same level as that of Jennifer Kent, director of “The Babadook”, and even farther from being considered a contemporary classic. 

It is clear that the main topic of “Relic” is the portrayal of dementia as an evil entity that stalks its victim and those around her, but in the effort of being so artistic and deep, the director forgot to give the audience something interesting to keep it engaged. The oppressive ambient that is created around the plot is effective in making the viewer feel uncomfortable from the get-go, but once you start to see the scenes go by without anything really happening, that feeling fades as if dementia had permeated through the screen and affected the viewer’s memory. Maybe this is the most appropriate metaphor for this movie.

The movie has a few good things that prevent it from being a complete disaster, as it is the case of the acting. The cast that comprises three generations of this family composed of Robyn Nevin (“The Matrix Reloaded”), Emily Mortimer (“Match Point”), and Bella Heathcote (“The Neon Demon”) make an excellent work in their acting. Similarly, the cinematography for the most part is enjoyable, although there are many scenes that are too dark that have the intention of being scary but, as with the rest of this movie, nothing really happens.

“Relic” has been advertised as the next great horror classic, but I feel pretty confident that it will not get to fulfill that objective. The idea of representing a psychological condition as an evil entity is not bad, as it was shown on “The Babadook”, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The plot is unbearably slow and with its intention of being so deep in its metaphor, forgets its objective of being interesting.

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