Reviews | Written by Jack Bottomley 08/10/2020



For all the monsters and masked axe wielders horror creates, the most frightening things of all are inevitable truths. Director Natalie Erika James’ Australian feature Relic, sees such truths play out in the most haunting and affecting way imaginable, in a sensational debut feature that has the enveloping feel of Hereditary, but is like The Taking of Deborah Logan meets The Babadook, by way of David Cronenberg.

Relic sees Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) alerted that their mother/grandmother Edna (Robyn Nevin) has not been seen by the neighbours in a few days. As they arrive to investigate, they find the house in a messy state but when Edna mysteriously returns days later, signs increase that all is not well.

Despite the aforementioned comparisons, and some asian horror influence, you will still be unprepared for what Relic truly is. An original horror story, which is chilling, slow building, sustained and confined, as Natalie Erika James and Christian White’s screenplay harnesses its terror from the cruel reality of watching those we love wither away before us, losing all that they are and were. This overpoweringly shadowy film conjures some unsettling imagery, as Brian Reitzell’s sometimes Guðnadóttir-esque score builds, with Relic’s central 'monster' really being a metaphor for the affliction of degenerative conditions and the pain in their wake.

Mortimer is fantastic as the daughter facing her mother’s loss, just as Heathcote is as a daughter/granddaughter witnessing her family crumbling, while Nevin captures the feral and helpless sides of such suffering. Relic is a tormentingly emotional experience but come the gruesomely unexpected, unusual and shattering conclusion, you’re left reeling by an ending that will stay with you long after and perhaps forever more. A powerful, moving film, that sets in, like a rot, on your soul.

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