Coming from IFC Midnight on VOD and writer/director Natalie Erika James is the story of a family history that all begins with looking for a RELIC.
Kay (Emily Mortimer) is having to rush to her mother Edna’s (Robyn Nevin) home when it is discovered that she is missing. Along with daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote), they arrive at Edna’s home to find that there are things falling apart. Looking for clues it becomes clear that dementia might be playing a large part in the struggle to find her.
Just as quick as she disappears, Edna returns but has nothing to say about where she has been. Kay can not seem to reach her on this point, but Edna does enjoy listening Sam. As the days go by, Kay and Sam both experience Edna’s violent outbursts yet Sam has decided that she wants to stay on with Sam once Kay leaves.
Not knowing what else to do, Kay begins to suspect that there is something in the house, something malevolent, something that wants to hurt them all. The women must come together to fight against what ever it is that has taken hold of the house.
Mortimer as Kay is a woman who clearly wants to find her mother and then go home. There is an obvious rift between them with hostility that they both only tap on. There is no way they could possibly know that the underlying issues are feeding into what ever it is that is taking over the family home. Mortimer also gives us the performance of a mother with a daughter who has the same strong will as her own mother.
Heathcote as Sam has issues with Kay and does just about anything she can to irritate her. Now this mother-daughter pair has problems that they also do not tap into. So now the circle of women not talking is complete. When Sam decides to continue to live with Edna, it feeds even more into the darkness of the house.
Nevin as Edna, and I have to say this, creeped me out totally. What a stunning ability to stare in a way that you know there isn’t any good that is going to come from her character. That being said, there is one scene between Nevin and Mortimer that is the most frightening thing but at the same time it is the most moving. Just well done all around.
IFC Films is a leading distributor of quality talent-driven independent films. Some of the company’s successes include BOYHOOD, FRANCES HA, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, TOUCHING THE VOID, CHE, TINY FURNITURE and CARLOS. For more information on films from IFC please visit www.ifcfilms.com.
RELIC is a suspenseful and creepy film that has underlying tones of three generations of women who just can’t get past their own issues. The story is slow in its telling but oh what an uphill ride of eeriness and tragedy until it reaches a peak and just when you think it will be a swift ride down the haunted rails – the story continues to be slow until it’s done with the viewer. Leading up to a crescendo that brings a mixture of horror and reconciliation based on that very same horror.
The story being told may start out as a horror film but looking deeper one has to wonder which is the horror – what lives in the house or the three women with their own secrets that are equally as frightening. This is a film that 2020 will be remembered for.
The cinematography is the fourth “person” in the film bringing the home into focus as the gritty old house filled with both good and bad memories. What a beautiful way to bring RELIC all into focus in such a way that it is a cool place that I would never want to live.
RELIC is a great escape and I intend to see it again. This is a sofa-blanket-popcorn-lights-out film that will keep your heart thumping.
In the end – everything decays!