Relic: LFF Film Review

Relic

My oh my, this year’s Halloween-timed horror offerings are just next level – first, we had Saint Maud, and now I can add Relic, another first feature by a female director, to the list.

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 their surfaces.

I’m not going to lie, I spent a good chunk of Relic watching it through my hands. I dread to think how I would have coped if LFF has been in the cinema! Natalie Erika James does a fantastic job of building the tension to the point where my heart was pounding in my chest and I was holding my breath.

It begins as a standard family drama – though it’s clear something isn’t right – as Kay and Sam believe Edna’s dementia is the explanation for these weird goings-on, and then James unsettles us with the creepiness, scares, and sense of foreboding before hitting us with the gruesome body horror and truly horrifying visuals and finishing off with an unexpected and weird twist. Certain images kept replaying in my mind as I tried to sleep last night.

I like how the story develops and how Kay and Sam (and us) find out new information as well as the fact that the two main ladies aren’t just scream queens – they are substantial characters who are also locked in a debate over whether Edna is fit to live at home by herself anymore. Mortimer, who adopts a convincing Australian accent for her role, and Heathcote give understated, natural performances at the start, as they don’t believe anything supernatural is happening, but they go into full panic mode when the s**t hits the fan.

Relic whips along and doesn’t outstay its welcome, being around 90 minutes long. It left me with so many questions and usually I find this frustrating but the mystery meant the film lingered with me long after the credits rolled. Genuinely terrifying stuff.

Seen as part of the London Film Festival. In cinemas 30 October

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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