By: Dominic McCafferty

Jake Gyllenhaal produced horror flick RELIC is very scary it’s been dubbed the scariest film of 2020 if you are still in need of a fright post-Halloween.

There’s nothing more frightening than our own mortality. It’s an unavoidable consequence of being alive and it’s something which, most of the time, people are able to put to one side in their daily lives. Indeed, we have to – what would become of a society that constantly lived in a state of awaiting death? To many, dementia is a physical manifestation of this most unavoidable fact and it is explored in both a terrifying and touching manner in Relic.

Bold in its take on the horror genre, it would perhaps come as a surprise to some that it is the work of a first time director,  Natalie Erika James. Despite this, she’s managed to attract the support of some industry heavyweights with Jake Gyllenhaal producing the project as well as gaining executive backing from MCU pros, Joe and Anthony Russo. Though having backing from such proponents of high budget, loud, action-packed experiences (especially the Russo’s), one shouldn’t be too quick to judge Relic in the same way. , It’s a slow burner, a film of small details and exploring, not demons or zombies, but the much more terrifying state of the human mind. 

“a slow burner, a film of small details and exploring, not demons or zombies, but the much more terrifying state of the human mind.”

And much like other titles of similar form, such as Hereditary, Relic is focused on the relationship between three generations of the women of one family; widowed Grandmother Edna (Robyn Nevin), her daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote). Kay returns to her remote childhood home to look for her mentally deteriorating mum, who’s wandered off an not been seen for some time. She’s joined by the free-spirited, but also lost, Sam. Eventually returning home covered in dirt and not knowing where she is, it’s clear Edna’s condition is not going to get any better. Kay stays with Edna in the meantime, looking to send her to a home, while Sam volunteers living with her Gran. It’s during this time that the secrets of the house begin to unravel…

Relic is a film which trusts its audience to not need to know everything and even uses this to its dramatic advantage. The performances reflect this point well too and are consistently unnerving, uncanny, but at the same time, touching. Relic brilliantly plays into the recent surge of a female lead, slow-burning indie horrors – let’s hope a drop in audience visits to cinemas in the increasingly uncertain Covid dominated world doesn’t discourage other filmmakers to follow suit…

The film is available to watch on Amazon Apple TV, Google Play and other sites.

Have a look at the trailer

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