I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!
Natalie Erika James
Natalie Erika James and Christian White
The new geriatric horror movie Relic asks the age-old question, when is the right time to put my dementia-riddled parent in a home? And would they even notice if I never visited them? And would a festive postcard every other holiday be an adequate substitute instead of actually visiting?
No. I just haven’t seen them in 20+ years. I just send them a postcard with a celebrity on it that looks nothing like me so they know I’m okay.
On Mother’s Day I was Kaya Scodelario from Crawl. On Father’s Day I was Adam Driver from every other movie released in 2019.
Or they’re dead. I wouldn’t know.
And speaking of dead, our main characters think their mother and grandmother might be dead in this review of Relic. Not to be confused with that Tom Sizemore/Penelope Ann Miller (remember them?) monster movie from 1997. Also not to be confused with your grandson Jay, who died from a hang gliding accident (also) in 1997.
Thank you, Jay.
You like hand gliding, don’t you Jay?
Relic opens somewhere in Australia with water overflowing from a bathtub. It gushes well out of the tub and down the stairs. It’s not too long before a large portion of this previously unknown house is flooded.
We see an elderly woman. Her back is to us and she’s naked.
Just to be clear, just because there’s a naked elderly person in this movie does not mean it’s written and directed by Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar).
Before we can warn elderly naked woman that her floorboards are really going to be warped, the screen fades to black.
This fadeout is the only black we will see as there are no people of color whatsoever in this movie. Just white women.
It’s days later and two women arrive at the elderly naked woman’s house.
We learn that elderly naked woman is also known as Edna (Robyn Nevin). Though with a ‘K’, Edna is an anagram for ‘naked’.
We also learn that the two women are Edna’s daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer, no relation to my nephew Mortimer nor to my nephew Emily) and Kay’s daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote, no relation to Heath Coatbell).
They drove down as soon as they could after learning their mother had been missing for three days. Well, they stopped at a buffet place and took in some sights but they did it in a timely but unhurried manner. They also went to a strip club but didn’t spend more than $15. Then they went to another buffet place.
Kay hadn’t had contact with Edna in weeks, so her mother wandering off for days on end comes as a total shock. You sense there might be some unspoken tension between mother and daughter.
Kay and Sam notice post-it notes all over the house. Edna must use them to remind herself to do everyday tasks. Maybe she should have written one that said, “Don’t wander off for days at a time”.
Sam asks her gran’s neighbor if he’s seen her. He says he hasn’t been around lately for reasons.
Soon a search party is underway. After a day’s work Edna is nowhere to be found. Not surprising, since the group traveled about 20 feet in each direction before giving up and going to that bar where Crocodile Dundee hangs out.
Needless to say, Kay is worried.
Sam is worried as well, but she’s noticed something that looks like water stains in and around the house. Or at least she thinks they’re water stains. She could swear they were smaller in size when she arrived the previous day. How could they possibly be bigger after only 24 hours?
The search party tries again the next day. Maybe next time they won’t be so inebriated and drug-addled. As far as search parties go, they just plain suc---
Kay is relieved to see her mother but is worried about what happened to her.
Edna insists she’s fine. She doesn’t remember what transpired over the past three days.
Edna’s doctor checks her out and doesn’t find anything wrong with her physically. Her doctor suggests that she not leave her daughter or her granddaughter’s sight for the next couple of days.
Kay begins searching for an assisted living center for her mother.
Sam objects and says she’d be willing to move in with gran to help take care of her. Sam’s also notices bruises on her grandmother’s chest that look a lot like the water stains she’s seen on the walls…and now the floor. Edna insists it’s nothing.
But it’s not nothing as both Kay and Sam see Edna talking to herself, saying something like, “It’s already here.”
Soon Edna’s behavior is a lot more erratic and Kay is getting ready to mail that first check to the old folk’s home.
Though it’s wonderful that Edna’s returned, it looks like she’s brought something back with her.
What Works With Relic
- Production designer Steven Jones-Evans makes Edna’s house look completely benign at first. But it isn’t long before you’re looking toward the edges of the frame to see what might be lurking. The house gives off a pervading sense of dread even if there’s nothing to be afraid of…until there is.
- Those of you looking for cheap Blumhouse scares should stay far away from Relic and watch that idiotic Fantasy Island again. There’s nary a jump scare in sight, but director Natalie Erika James stuffs Relic with atmospheric tension. There are some sequences where you might be holding your breath though you don’t know why.
- The final 20 minutes will have some viewers petrified and some viewers wiping tears from their eyes. Rarely has a horror climax been so terrifying and poignant at the same time.
What Doesn’t Work With Relic
- Though it never hinders the movie in anyway, there are sequences in which characters do nothing but walk around a house. Anxious viewers will be antsy, but patient viewers who don’t need a jump scare every 5 minutes will be rewarded…with some Flomax.
Relic is a horror movie that stays with you after the credits roll. A meditation on the complications of mother-daughter relationships as well as the ravages of old age, Relic is one of the best horror movies of the year. See it with your mother.
No. Definitely do not see it with your mother.