Baddie – An actual gosh darned monster.
Lesson – Anthropologists are CRAZY. (You know who you are)
While everyone else is slacking off and enjoying turduckens and whatevs, I got involuntarily stuck working my real life job this week, so GUESS WHAT. SciFridays. It’ll never let you down. Except that week I went on surprise vacation.
Guys. I actually watched a good movie this week. As a quick reminder, I pick my movies based on poster/description. So when I read about a biological anomaly in a Chicago Museum, paired with a poster featuring only teeth, naturally I got excited. “The Relic” was a pleasant surprise in the wake of “Grizzly Rage”. More than I love reviewing truly terrible movies, I love discovering movies that are secretly good films.
Here are some things “The Relic” does correctly:
– Characters & Character Development
– Backstory, Exposition & Plot Progression
Allow me to elaborate – and forgive me, because I so rarely get to discuss good movies.
“The Relic” primarily takes place in the Natural History Museum of Chicago, and as such, a lot of dialogue/plot is within the respective research departments. Our main heroine is an Evolutionary Biologist, and here’s the cool part. She discusses science in an approachable, but logical way. Most of all, to the best of my knowledge, it’s more or less correct (considering it’s a SciFi flick, of course). The props department and scenic designers really went all out on this movie. There are little details like what’s posted on the fridge, the text in a DNA program, etc., that are barely noticeable but really maintain the integrity of the film.
In a moment of what I’m going to refer to as utter genius, the creature is a conglomerate of DNA. This makes sense in the movie, I promise. The ‘utter genius’ part comes into play when the science people realize it’s predominantly reptilian DNA. Specifically, the gecko. That’s right. A gecko. It’s hilarious, but I was too busy being terrified to notice until after the credits rolled.
Speaking of which, there is a nice plot/explanation within this movie. It’s actually thought out. Even the red herrings are nicely done. This being said, “The Relic” occasionally suffers from some heavy-handedness. They kind of beat you over the head with some things. For instance, the Lieutenant is superstitious. However, the character work is pretty decent.
You get a little backstory for each character, and Tom Sizemore’s Lieutenant is pretty typical. Just went through a divorce, so kind of a curmudgeon, but he’s a heartfelt guy. I like this, because it makes for a good leader, which is what he is. People listen when he talks, because they respect him with a healthy dose of fear. It earns him the trust of the Biologist super quickly, too, but it’s believable. He also gives her the respect she deserves. And seriously, she channels some serious Ripley. Seriously. There’s this scene where a character she cares about gets murdered, and she lets out genuine anguish, and recovers, then calmly removes her heels and marches out. It’s totally badass. When facing down the monster, she finds the moxie to make a chemical bomb before freaking out. Again, badass. Her closing line is amazing, and the delivery of the line totally makes it.
For those of you who don’t know me in real life, I dabble in SFX makeup/hair/prosthetics/wigs. So I look for that stuff in movies, because I’m a huge nerd. I have to say, this movie was awesome. There is so much fantastic prop work I was in awe. Prop work that actually gets screen time! It’s not really a spoiler, but good golly gosh is there a ton of decapitation in this film, and there’s a decent body count. This is all handled believably by the SFX team. Dead bodies aside, the creature itself is fantastic. There’s a combination of CGI/prop work, and the mobility of the critter is amazing. This film was made in 1997, but the SFX doesn’t look it at all. The movement of the monster is totally natural, and the CGI is used sparingly and well.
I’m going to wrap this whole thing up by saying that this movie does a great job at building tension. I jumped, I got nervous, I actually hid my eyes. They wait to show you the monster, and the payoff is total gold.
In short, if you’re looking for a great horror film, please watch “The Relic”. It’s chock full of 90’s horror integrity and a great X-Files vibe, and it was really wonderful.