The other day I was surfing through Apple TV trying to find something to watch, and I came across Relic. I remembered hearing some good things about it a week or so ago, so I decided to pay the $6.99 and give it a try. July is really turning into a great month of movies for me.
Relic is an Australian horror film directed by Natalie Erika James in her feature film debut, and stars Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote as a mother and daughter who are staying with their mom/grandma (Robyn Nevin) after she mysteriously disappears and then reappears. The only thing is, grandma is acting different and there are strange spots on the walls…
This film is exactly what I want a horror movie to be. Enough of a creepy atmosphere to keep the heart rate up without resorting to cheap jump-scares, and an underlying theme that takes some thinking to fully comprehend. The way this movie uses some creepy imagery and dialogue to parallel how an older person may experience dementia is really smart. It starts off very subtly, but eventually becomes actually pretty heartbreaking the more you relate to the family having to accept that grandma may not be the way she was when she was younger. I also found that the more I related what was happening in the film to someone with dementia, the more disturbing it became. The fact that dementia may feel to some people like someone/something is invading your home/body is really terrifying and sad.
I did find that the pace towards the middle of the movie started to get very slow. It was only noticeably slow for maybe 10 minutes, but it did kind of kill a little bit of the mood that it had set up. The pacing issue is so easy to forgive though when the acting is so great. Especially Robyn Nevin, who’s performance I found was incredibly grounded. Other actors could have easily gone full “Nic Cage” with the scenes she was in, but she kept it more subdued, which in turn made the story more believable.
I totally recommend Relic for anyone who likes horror movies closer to Hereditary and It Comes at Night, and less like Friday the 13th or The Conjuring. It moves a lot slower and has less direct scares, but leaves you more uneasy. Another great horror movie made by a new director.