Relic Parent Guide
While tragic and occasionally gross, this film lacks the tension necessary to remain consistently interesting.
Parent Movie Review
Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) are worried about Kay’s elderly mother: Edna (Robyn Nevin) hasn’t answered the phone or her door for several days. After getting into the house, Kay and Sam find evidence that Edna’s dementia is progressing, leaving her dangerously confused and away from home. But soon enough, Edna returns. She is disoriented and unwilling to talk about where she’s been, if she even remembers. Now Kay and Sam have to figure out how to help her, despite Edna’s continual resistance.
For much of the movie, the only horrors are the very real tragedies of dementia and one unusual shadowy figure. Given the slow pace and focus on the family drama, this doesn’t work out too well. Without anything beyond a few of Kay’s nightmares to really grab the audience, the film just feels like it’s dancing around anything properly scary. The movie seems to just be budgeting its scares for the last half hour – not an uncommon approach, but one that doesn’t seem to be paying off in this case. That said, the last half hour is considerably better, and almost compensates for the inevitable boredom of the preceding hour.
This isn’t exactly family fare – within the first three minutes, there’s a solid 20 seconds of posterior nudity, following which you have occasional profanity and some truly gross shots of what I’m going to describe as “excessively decomposed” bodies. As in, more than the usual level of gross decomposition you typically see in horror films. I’m just going to recommend that, if you decide to watch Relic, that you avoid doing so while eating anything more flavorful than a saltine. Even the cracker might be pushing it, depending on your gastric resilience.
While tragic and occasionally gross, Relic seems to lack the tension necessary to remain consistently interesting. Especially in a more atmospheric horror flick, tension is so critical in keeping butts in seats for the first and second acts. The third act brings everything together in a nightmarish and disturbing package…if you stuck around long enough to see it. The film does do one thing well - it brings home the terrible tragedy of living with dementia, and the toll it can take on the afflicted individual and their family. But, for my money, if I want to give myself nightmares, I can think of better options. And ones that won’t make me feel as guilty about the state of senior care in the world.Directed by Natalie Erika James. Starring Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, and Bella Heathcote. Running time: 89 minutes. Theatrical release July 10, 2020. Updated July 11, 2020
Watch the trailer for Relic
Rating & Content Info
Why is Relic rated R? Relic is rated R by the MPAA for some horror violence/disturbing images, and language
Violence: There are several depictions of graphic physical injury and badly decomposed bodies. Individuals are shoved, bitten, and shown engaging in self-harm. A character is shown with a compound fracture. There is a particularly nasty scene which depicts someone removing the skin from another character.
Sexual Content: There is brief posterior nudity, and several shots of individuals from the shoulders up in bathtubs.
Profanity: There are two uses of extreme profanity, one scatological curse, and occasional uses of terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated July 11, 2020
Relic Parents' Guide
Most of us fear losing our cognitive abilities as we age. What do you know about dementia? How can you help a loved one suffering from dementia? Is there anything you can do to prevent or delay its development?
Alz.org: What Is Dementia?
Caregiver.org: Caregiver’s Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviors
NHS.uk: Can dementia be prevented?
Related home video titles:
Family drama is a frequent basis for horror – The Turning, Hereditary, Gretel and Hansel, and The Shining all build tension alongside turbulent relationships. The Lodge explores a new family trying to learn to live with one another in an isolated cabin during a blizzard: always a great idea.