Relic (2020)

relic poster 2020 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

General fear of aging

Very interpretational story that could have been fleshed out slightly more

Movie Info

Movie Name: Relic

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s): Movie Genre

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

relic emily mortimer shadow figure

Why does it feel like somebody’s watching me?

Getting old is scary.  When Kay (Emily Mortimer) learns her mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) hasn’t been seen in a few days, she fears the worst.  With her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote), she goes to her house to find it empty…and no signs of what has become of her mother.  When Edna shows up with no explanation for her disappearance, Kay realizes she must do something about her mother’s condition and staying in the home her mother spent her life in isn’t an option.  As her grandmother drops in and out of coherence, Sam finds herself caught in her own maze of the past…and soon all three women are spiraling out of control.

Written and directed by Natalie Erika James (with additional scripting by Christian White), Relic is a psychological horror drama.  The film premiered at Sundance in 2020 and was released to positive reviews.

Relic was on my list for a while and it is the type of movie I might have ventured to the theater for (most likely the art theater) if COVID-19 hadn’t hit.  The slow-burn thriller type of horror is increasingly becoming the scarier type of horror, and Relic preys on all fears of aging and loss.

relic grandmother edna knife roby nevin

Keep away

Loneliness isn’t always bad, but the balance between solitude and loneliness is a slippery slope.  It feels like the Edna character is suffering from this.  She mourns her husband and loves the peace of mind living in the home brings.  The front window of the house is a reminder of her father who slipped into a mental spiral of fear and neglect.  The fact that dementia and other mental diseases are hereditary hang heavy over the picture with both Kay fearing she’ll be like her mother and Sam seeing what could potentially happen to her years from now…she is disappearing right in front of her.  It is all implicit, but it is universal.

The cast is good.  Emily Mortimer stars out as the character that seems cold and distant, but it becomes apparent that she’s scared and a realist who knows that her mother isn’t going to get better and instead will only get worse.  For an older actress like Robyn Nevin, she has the difficulty of acting out fears that she most likely has had…and being forced to be very open about the darkness that threatens older people.  Bella Heathcote might have the most difficult role of all the actresses in that she doesn’t have the life experience and her character doesn’t have the live experience.  She’s thrown into the situation blind and is witnessing it for the first time.

relic ending emily mortimer robyn nevin bella heathcote

Everything gets old and dies…eventually

Visually, the movie plays with both the emptiness and claustrophobic nature of being older and alone.  There are literally ghosts haunting the backgrounds of the film like an old house filled with memories and entering the memories is like entering a rabbit hole.  Sam discovers this literally when she seems to find a whole new cluttered house within the house…the walls start closing in on her and she sees what her grandmother lives day-to-day…it is horrifying.

Relic is largely interpretational which is either is gift or its curse depending on what type of movies you like.  There are little explanations in Relic, and it seems more like most of Relic is a concept than actually occurring.  Burying and consuming memories to protect them as reality slowly gets wiped away is the fear…instead of living in the present with the real horror of memories fading.  With this in mind, it feels like it could have been honed a bit more and sculpted slightly more to have a bigger impact.  Regardless, there is a darkness growing in Relic, and it becomes more and more evident as you age.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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