Movie Review: ‘Relic’ Tackles The Horrors Of Dementia In Unique, Terrifying Way

July 6, 2020

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely - Horror Fuel CEO & Executive Producer Email: [email protected]



Normally, when I review a movie I try not to give away too many spoilers. This time, I feel like it’s necessary to do the movie justice. Consider this a warning.

Directed by Natalie Erika James who co-wrote the film with Christian White, Relic‘s official synopsis reads as: “A daughter, mother, and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family home.” The synopsis does not do the film justice.

Yes, Relic is a horror movie, but it is also so much more. It is a commentary about the horrors of dementia and the terrifying process of a loved one losing themselves and becoming a husk of who they once were, as well as the toll the disease takes on the entire family.

Imagine slowly losing who you are, losing your memories and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. That’s scarier than anything any film could really capture, but somehow Relic comes close.

The entire cast was fantastic, including Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote, but Robyn Nevin stands out. She did an absolutely incredible job constantly switching between phases of the disease, going from the woman her family knows and loves to the erratic stranger facing off against her loved ones. I don’t imagine that it could have been easy for her to be in that headspace at the age of 78.

The way that Natalie Erika James and Christian White tackle dementia is very clever, using supernatural horror as a metaphor for the real horror that more than 5.8 million U.S. families face. The way the story is told and the story itself is unique, it’s something you haven’t seen before and that gets bonus points in my book.

The film takes its time building tension but when the right time comes things are kicked into high gear and stay a wild ride up until the film’s final moments when the heartbreaking truth is revealed. While the ending is frightening and disturbing, it’s also beautiful, heartbreaking, and moving, a combination that is hard to capture.

Relic puts a haunting new spin on dementia that we haven’t seen before and for that, it gets a 5 out 5 from me. Relic arrives on Digital and On Demand July 10th, from IFC Midnight.


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