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Relic Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Relic Large

Directed by Natalie Erika James
Written by Natalie Erika James and Christian White
2020, 90 minutes, Rated R
Released on November 17th, 2020

Starring:
Emily Mortimer as Kay
Robyn Nevin as Edna
Bella Heathcote as Sam

Relic Blu 01 Relic Blu 02

Review:

Edna is getting up in years and lives alone in a small town outside Victoria. She complains of hearing strange noises and believes something is coming into the house at night, but no one listens. When she stops answering phone calls, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam drive out to check on her. They find the house empty, showing signs of neglect and clues of Edna’s increasing dementia. Kay reports her mother missing to the police and a search party is organized. After three days failing to locate her, Kay returns to the house where she is surprised to find her mother standing in the kitchen with dirty feet. Kay and Sam are greatly relieved, but there is something off about the old woman. Granny is evasive when asked direct questions of where she has been.

As her mother’s emotions become more volatile, Kay worries her condition has advanced significantly. Repeating her insistence of something trying to get in or hiding behind the walls or under the bed, Edna appears to be suffering a disconnect with reality. Against her mother’s wishes, Sam volunteers to stay behind and take care of her grandmother full time. The creaky old house is appropriately unsettling, with a strange mold spreading along the walls and doors as Edna grows more consumed by her fears. Kay and Sam are forced to rethink their beliefs when they begin witnessing unexplained phenomena. What is trying to get in and what does it want – and why doesn’t the neighbor’s kid want to come over anymore?

Director Natalie Erika James makes a solid debut with Relic, a slow-boil horror tale that balances our innate fear of death with the equally frightening prospect of the toll old age takes on the mind and body. Co-written with Christian White, James delivers a quiet story of dread and sorrow that affects three generations of one family. Edna finds herself confused and isolated while she is somewhat ignored and dismissed by her family. Kay is a workaholic struggling to make time for her mother and look out for her daughter. Sam is more attentive to her grandmother’s needs, but is sometimes the target of the old lady’s erratic temper. Edna’s illness stresses the family dynamic into uncomfortable territory as they are forced to face the possibility that there really is something strange going on.

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Emily Mortimer (Mary) headlines as Kay, the overworked mother taking care of her family. She is patient and even-tempered and wants nothing more than to help her aging mother. Robyn Nevin (The Matrix Reloaded) plays Edna, the matriarch of the family faced with an increasing sense of uncertainty. Her vulnerability and fear control her behavior and make the growing confusion all the more unbearable. Bella Heathcote (The Neon Demon) is wonderful in the tricky role of young Sam, who is deeply concerned about her grandmother’s wellbeing. All three actors give solid performances that feel genuine and lend credibility to the material. They act like a real family and their challenges are easily relatable even as things enter the realm of the supernatural.

James’ direction is confident and her choices bold as she repeatedly generates suspenseful sequences that enhance a growing sense of dread. The film greatly benefits from cinematographer Charlie Sarroff (American Bistro) and production designer Steven Jones-Evans (Cut), who create a visually striking environment that echoes the deterioration of the family unit. Adding additional punch is the haunting score by Brian Reitzell (30 Days of Night) that builds a sense of unease. Relic comes with an impressive pedigree behind the scenes, most notably producers Jake Gyllenhaal and Marvel go-to filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo. This is a small, quiet story that sneaks up on you and builds tension to a crushing finale. Natalie Erika James makes a strong first impression as a filmmaker and I look forward to seeing more.

Relic Blu 05 Relic Blu 06

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the transfer is pretty good, but does occasionally show signs of minor compression issues during the darkest scenes. Image quality is sharp and colors are well represented.

There are three audio options, starting with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track. Music cues are strong without becoming intrusive and sound effects are well-balanced, keeping dialogue levels clean and always understandable. The third track is an audio description service that narrates the onscreen action.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

The theatrical trailer is included.

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Grades:

Movie: Threestars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Threeandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Onestar
Overall: 3 Star Rating

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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