Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Niven star as a mother, daughter, and grandmother who are being terrorised by a manifestation of dementia in the family home.
If you want to be terrified in the cinema this Halloween, Relic is the movie for you.
The film follows Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) as they travel to their remote family home as Kay’s mother Edna (Robyn Nevin), who suffers from dementia, has gone missing.
When Edna returns home like nothing has happened, the relief is short-lived as it soon appears something is wrong with her – she is convinced someone has been getting into the house and is trying to get her – while the house seems to be decaying, with noises coming from inside the walls and black mould spreading across them.
Relic begins as a standard family drama – although it’s clear something isn’t right – as Kay and Sam believe Edna’s dementia is the reason behind all these weird goings-on, and then director/co-writer Natalie Erika James unsettles us with the creepiness, scares, and sense of foreboding before hitting us with the gruesome body horror and truly horrifying visuals, and topping it all off with an unexpected and weird twist.
James does a fantastic job of building the tension in a way that will make the audience's heart pound and of creating imagery that will linger in the mind long after the credits roll.
Relic isn't a basic haunted house horror - the scares are there but so is a substantial story, with revelations and new information about the leading ladies and the house being dropped throughout.
The two younger actresses aren't just helpless scream queens either - they have depth and agency and are locked in a debate about whether Edna is fit to live at home by herself any longer.
Mortimer, who adopts a convincing Australian accent for her role, and Heathcote give understated, natural performances in the beginning when everything seems almost normal, but they go into full panic mode as the hauntings step up a notch.
Relic is a genuinely terrifying horror which tells a poignant tale about dementia at the same time.
James makes you care for the characters and the story which make the scares all the more effective. Perfect Halloween viewing!
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