The Relic (1997)

the relic poster 1997 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Kind of interesting story, fun creature

The movie is too dark and action is often hard to see, generic characters

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Relic

Studio:   British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)/Cloud Nine Entertainment/H2L Media Group

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  January 10, 1997

MPAA Rating:  R

the relic decapitated head

So you are saying this could delay the museum opening?

A researcher in South America sends crates back to the Chicago Field Museum for an exhibit on local superstition, and with an ancient tribal relic, comes something else.  A creature is stalking the museum, decapitating its victims, and consuming parts of their brains.  When the museum goes into lockdown mode during the big exhibit opening, it is up to a superstitious police detective named Lt. Vincent D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) and an evolutionary biologist named Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller) to uncover the origin of creature and stop the killing.

Directed by Peter Hyams, The Relic is a horror monster movie.  The film adapted the 1995 novel Relic by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston. The movie did well at the box office and was met with mixed reviews.

the relic monster creature

Get that light off me…I live in the dark!

I read Relic before I saw the movie The Relic.  I was excited and went to a preview showing on a cold and snowy night.  It was a fun popcorn movie with lots of jumps for the packed audience.  It was not all I had hoped for but it was still fun.

The Relic isn’t a piece of art or very good, but it is quite entertaining with a lot of good moments.  The story is full of generic stock characters (the smart woman, the tough-as-nails cop, the conniving coworker, the wise elderly professor, etc., etc.).  The story is kind of an Aliens with a bit of mystery tied in to the search for the creature’s motives and the source of the mutation that caused it.  While a lot of the movie takes itself a bit too seriously, the movie does have some fun with parts including the monster picking off police rappelling into the museum.

the relic penelope ann miller monster

Cool…wish I could see what was going on

I have always enjoyed Penelope Ann Miller, and she gets to play a semi-action role as the biologist facing off against the monster.  Tom Sizemore is a rather generic detective (his quirk is that he is superstitious…in a movie about superstitions).   James Whitmore has a rather underdeveloped role as a fellow professor, and Linda Hunt plays the museum curator.

The novel was set in New York City, but the movie shifted it to Chicago Field Museum because the New York’s Museum of Natural History didn’t like how the museum was portrayed.  Apparently, the Chicago museum didn’t mind being portrayed as a museum that was willing to open the day after finding a security guard decapitated in the bathroom.  It’s all business in Chicago.  The shift in location also doesn’t make as much sense with the arrival of the ship…this means that the boat managed to make it all the way to Lake Michigan before the creature killed the crew.

the relic monster cgi penelope ann miller

Run from the CGI Monster!

A creature movie of course is bolstered by a good creature, and the monster in The Relic is a good creature…I think.  The movie suffers from being too dark most of the time.  The creature has a cool design (when you can see it), but there is also some rather early (and shoddy) CGI moments near the end with the monster on fire.

The Relic has gained a bit of a cult following over the years simply because it is a nice monster movie in a period of time when monster movies were a bit few and far between.  The horror could be more horrific and the action could be better, but it does have its moments…and it is a nice alternative to some similar movies which get more play.  Despite being a relative success, the movie did not get a sequel (the novel version of The Relic had a follow-up story called Reliquary released in 1997).

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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