When grandmother Edna (Robyn Nevin) goes missing from her home, daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) arrive to search for her.
After days of searching, Edna suddenly appears with strange bruises.
As Kay and Sam remain to look after their ailing Edna, they begin to realize that there is something menacing in the house — or is it Edna?
“Relic” is an Australian horror film with traditional horror sensibilities. However, the horror elements are used sparsely.
Kay and Sam arrive with a typical parent-offspring relationship. Sam reveals that she has quit her job to wait tables. Kay wants her to show more drive and pursue a career.
As their bickering continues, each sees Edna in a different light. Kay sees her mother as an aging parent who has always been disappointed with her. Sam sees her grandmother as an ally against her mother’s nagging. These distractions keep the women from addressing the clues that Edna has been offering them.
Director Natalie Erika James brings this horror film to audiences with a too patient hand. As tension builds the stakes don’t quite rise, leaving viewers with a second act that is too slow and drawn out.
In addition, the menace within the house is not adequately defined.
The climax finally arrives offering a tense and unusual, but ambiguous conclusion.
“Relic” is a film worthy of a view, but it won’t top this year’s list of horror films due to a lack of real tension.
Rated: R for some horror violence/disturbing images and language.