Old haunted house, running tap, mould and dementia.
The words above may be the most popular way to describe Relic, but the 1 hour 30 minute film promises way more than that.
Stellar acting by Australian veteran Robyn Nevin, as grandmother and (“villain”) Edna, and daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer), will make it difficult to watch the film without self-reflection of one’s relationship with their parents. Edna’s daughter, Sam, (Bella Heathcote) is reminiscent of our relationship with our mothers in our youth, when we seemingly found it difficult to talk about the happenings in our lives to them, and sing opposite tunes to theirs. The writing and the portrayal of the complex family relations is an incredible feat achieved.
The usage of the rot and its placement at the last few scenes of the film, and the labyrinth are metaphors to the generational disease and loss of one’s mind and reality during dementia. There were instances that suggested that this may have lead to a film on possession, with creepy acknowledgements to monsters hiding under the bed and nightmares. Thankfully, these were mere distractions as the film kept close, and back to its track to our fears of aging, death, guilt and caring for a loved one with dementia.
What started as a slow burn in the beginning gave way to an intense 30 minutes towards the end of the film when Edna went on a violent spree. Without giving too much away, the final scenes of the three women are not scary, but would easily be ranked as one of the most memorable and unusual ends to a film.
Relic is a tremendous debut from Natalie Erika James and co-writer Christian White which ultimately is one for your heart-strings, and I cannot wait to see what’s next from the duo.
NZIFF 2020 - Watch Relic HERE