The Relic may not be a top notched film but looking at it as a call back to the old days of monster horror flicks, I think it works well enough to be a satisfactory Saturday movie night viewing party.
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Lions Gate | R – 105 min. – $19.99 | April 6, 2010
Directed by: Peter Hyams
Writer(s): Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (novel); Amy Holden Jones and John Raffo and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (screenplay)
Cast: Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore
Theatrical Release Date: January 10, 1997
Features: Commentary, Featurette, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Disc Size: 21.5 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Chicago Police Lt. Vincent D’Agosta (TOM SIZEMORE) is investigating the nasty deaths of several men who are found with their bodies decapitated and brains torn out of their skulls. This initial attack came aboard a cargo ship that came out of Brazil where, when the movie begins, we find a tribal ritual and an American taking part only become a part of the ritual in some manner.
Back in the States, we are introduced to our second protagonist, Dr. Margo Green (PENELOPE ANN MILLER), whose expertise resides in evolutionary biology (or something of that nature). She works at the Chicago Museum of Natural History where the majority of our little horror film takes place.
After some superstition explanations and other mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t help the plot, we discover a monster somehow has gotten loose in the museum. Its first victim is the museum guard which the beast rips to shreds and tears out the brains. With an important money-making gala set for the next night, museum officials are anxious to get the murder solved as D’Agosta has threatened to cancel it as he and his men do a thorough search of the vast building.
Well, after a nice coincidence where a deviant criminal is found hold up in the sewers underneath the museum (with an axe no less), museum officials and more importantly the mayor are convinced they have their killer. D’Agosta is not buying it but after some political arm twisting, allows the gala to go on as scheduled but still wants to shut down different sections of the complex.
You can guess what happens from here: Creature is still on the hunt and manages to shut down the museum’s power and security grid and, thanks to another gruesome killing, freaks everyone out. D’Agosta and Margo team up to find out what this creature is and how it can be stopped before it’s too late.
The Relic can either be seen as a lousy movie or a call back, with some modern amenities, to the 1950s B-movie monster slasher. While my expertise in B-movies isn’t the best, I don’t think this is a bad movie. There are certainly plenty of clichés to go around the some of the plot elements like how the monster manages to move around from one area to the next with relative ease didn’t make a whole of sense, but the film did manage to keep me entertained.
The two main characters in Tom Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller do their best with limited parts and forced character development – and a dumb comedy string about D’Agosta losing his dog in a custody battle with his ex – but it never quite gels together. However, I guess it’s better than nothing and at least you have two actors who are (or were for the mid/late 1990s) are certainly capable of handling the material.
The movie was directed by Peter Hyams and when you finally get the monster killings he keeps things so dark you cannot even see what the hell is going on. I realize that this is partially due to budgetary constraints and is cheaper to keep the monster hidden for as long as possible, but Hymans’ “style” got a bit tired.
Based on the novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, The Relic may not have quite accomplished what the filmmakers wanted yet at the same time it still has a certain charm (in the monster-horror sense) that made me appreciate the movie, blemishes and all.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
Feature Commentary – Director/Cinematographer Peter Hyams sits down for a low-key commentary where he talks about the various elements of making the movie. It’s not an entirely engaging commentary and would’ve been good to add in a participant to fill in the gaps when things begin to drag.
The Filmmaker’s Lens: An Interview with Peter Hyams (10:10; HD) is an OK featurette where Hyams once again goes through his philosophy of filmmaking to his history of cinematography. Most surprising aspect of this is that it’s in 16×9 widescreen and in HD…
Last is the original Theatrical Trailer (2:15; SD) which is always nice to watch after you see the movie.
VIDEO – 3.25/5
The Relic comes to Blu-ray in 1080p high-definition and with a 1.78 aspect ratio transfer. The movie looks OK on Blu-ray as the detail level is good during the daylight scenes, though at times it still isn’t the best, but when you get to the horror scenes in the latter half, it’s really hard to get a gauge on how good or bad the picture is because the blacks are so crushed, you can hardly see anything. However, when you can see what’s happening, and given the age of the film (now 13 years), it’s not bad.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The Blu-ray sports an expansive 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. How Lionsgate determines what gets 7.1 channels versus 5.1, I don’t know, but this track sounds fantastic with nice levels during the quieter, dialogue-filled moments while unrestrained during the monster attacks which also kick in the subwoofer to provide some more intensity.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
The Relic may not be a top notched film but looking at it as a call back to the old days of monster horror flicks, I think it works well enough to be a satisfactory Saturday movie night viewing party. The Blu-ray at least ports over all the features from the DVD version and the 7.1 channel audio is amazing.