|Director:||Natalie Erika James|
|Cast:||Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, Robyn Nevin|
|Release Date:||3 July 2020 (USA)|
Relic (2020) tells the story of Edna, the family matriarch who suffers from dementia. When she goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam return home to find her. They discover a demonic presence hanging over the home, which is taking over Edna’s mind. Now they must save their mother from whatever darkness that is consuming her & the house before it’s too late.
This film is the debut of the first-time director, Natalie Erika James who I think made a very impressive horror movie. There are very few characters in this film who are the leads. This is one of the rarest horror films that doesn’t have a spirit, demon or monsters trying to harm these people or possessing Edna. The horror element here is the surreal, cold atmosphere which I found quite impressive in the first place. Not many horror films succeed to terrify you without jump scares. This movie doesn’t have any jump scares, just the acting, the dark cold color tone that makes an eerie environment, and suspense building from the very first scene.
The story is said from the mother & daughter perspective who are absolutely clueless about how to cure their mother from whatever that’s eating her from inside. There are many horrifying scenes that are sure to stay in your long-term memory. And that is how I measure a horror piece. Its ability to make me think long after watching it is what I admire about the direction of this film. A movie where the manifestation of horror is not a so-called ‘spirit or demon’ but dementia.
Relic Story Build-up
The very first scene is so creepy that it will make you interested in watching it. It tells the experience & bond of two daughters for their mothers. As Kay (Emily Mortimer) & her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) returns to Edna (Robyn Nevin) house after she went missing, both experience weird noises in the house. When Edna returns one day Kay finds it very shocking to see her mother appear suddenly out of nowhere, her entire appearance dirty & sick. This really makes her worry & Sam tells Kay what if they take their grandmother to stay with them. Sam also proposes to stay with Edna to look after her.
These sequences show how both of them are worried for the said person & want to deal with it in their own way. When old Edna sometimes stares outside to the dark woods through an open door it scares Sam but still, she builds up the courage to talk to her grandmother & understand what is bothering her. The character’s concern for their mother makes the story realistic and acceptable to the audience.
There is a cabin in the woods that was build close to them. There are sequences where Kay sees the cabin in her dream where she sees her mother sitting by a window & a sick, half-dead, rotting figure sitting on the bed. The scenes reveal that Kay thinks if there is something in the cabin that has associated itself with the house or her mother. And I must tell you if you are watching it in an empty room with light-off you are sure to get goosebumps.
Edna who is slipping away in dementia talks to herself complaining about her daughter, granddaughter that makes them think if there is something in the house that is absorbing here. We see Edna doing self-harm, chewing family photos & pissing in the house that worries the other two women.
The three primary actors-Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer & Bella Heathcote did an amazing job of portraying these characters who are so concerned about one another. Firstly, Robyn Nevin, even at 78 years of age was the show-stealer. Her glares to her own family will terrify you more than watching a ghost in a film. Surely the perfect prosthetic makeup makes her more devil-like at the end of the film.
Emily ‘s character as a concerned mother & daughter was also impressive. As she is invested in her mother’s absurd, self-harming condition she is also worried about her daughter, Sam who is trying to find clues about what harming her grandmother. Bella Heathcote was decent in her role. Not to say much about her, she was good. The main element that is in the relationship explored in this story is that no wonder how dreadful the elder is for her condition, still they need to deal with care & love. That is where the actors have won hearts.
This film is a beautiful yet painful, terrifying love story portrayed as horror. The three generations of women. It’s about this modern age where our elders are emotionally neglected and put into “homes” that are anything but homely. And such old people being lonely for days & days, rot in so-called “homes” as they slowly descend into such symptoms similar to dementia. I think this film has explored a very realistic & unpopular topic of most elders. Erika James has very cleverly molded such perspectives of life with a demonic atmosphere.
This movie is a must-watch if you are a sensible horror fan. If you are a big fan of jump scares then this is definitely not for you. Conjuring or Nun will suffice you more. But if you appreciate the genre & are a sensible viewer then you should give it a watch. It maintains the suspense constantly throughout 1 hour 30 minutes without any part dragging itself.