Relic

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Relic Movie Poster Image
Emotional slow-burn horror movie about families, dementia.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Messages here aren't clear-cut, but despite the scary stuff and the struggling, the movie is essentially about dementia and the conundrum of how elderly family members should be cared for.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kay and Sam do the right thing by staying in the house and trying to take care of Edna; Sam even offers to move in and become a full-time caretaker. This shows selflessness and an unwillingness to let a loved one suffer.

Violence

Scary, creepy nightmare scenes (shriveled bodies, spreading black stains, decay, etc.). Other scary images. Character stabs own face. Broken bone protruding. Scary noises (banging washing machine, etc.). Bleeding/blood stains. Character grabs teen girl's fingers, hurting her. Shouting, tantrum. Urinating on floor.

Sex

Naked female bottom.

Language

Uses of "s--t" and "retard," plus exclamatory use of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen smoking. Other characters smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Relic is a horror movie about three generations of women (Bella Heathcote, Emily Mortimer, and Robyn Nevin) who end up under the same roof when the grandmother starts mysteriously disappearing and exhibiting unusual behavior. It's essentially a movie about dementia, with scary stuff. It's a slow burn, but it does get quite terrifying in the final stretch. Expect lots of scary images and sounds, nightmares about shriveled bodies and decay, a character stabbing her own face, a protruding broken bone, some blood, urination, shouting, grabbing, etc. A woman's naked bottom is briefly shown. Language includes uses of "s--t," "retard," and "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ." A teen and another character smoke cigarettes in one scene.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTorilouwho93 August 27, 2020

SLOW and very overrated

I was very excited to watch this because of the ratings rotten tomatoes gave it. Its q very slow movie, I forced myself to watch it hopping it would get better... Continue reading
Adult Written bysophiwaller July 10, 2020

Don't really recommend honestly.

This movie is R and I honestly think PG13 would much better suit it. I'm 14 and this movie did not scare me or gross me out. The worst it gets is people pe... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byLuke Rambo September 8, 2020

Okay but Messed Up

Okay film with no sex, minimal language, but that ending was pretty disturbing. Gross.

What's the story?

In RELIC, Kay (Emily Mortimer) learns that her aged mother, Edna, hasn't been seen in some time. So Kay and her teen daughter, Sam (Bella Heathcote), drive from Melbourne to Edna's woodsy country home. Inside they find many odd clues, from Post-it notes left everywhere to food left out for a nonexistent pet. Kay and Sam decide to stay there and wait; unexpectedly, Edna (Robyn Nevin) suddenly turns up in the kitchen one day, making tea. She has no memory of what happened but sports an unusual black bruise on her chest. A doctor recommends that someone look after her, so Kay and Sam stay on a bit longer. But creepy things increasingly pop up, including noises, nightmares, and a secret room with horrifying properties.

Is it any good?

This horror movie has a pretty slow build, but when it kicks in, it does so with head-spinning impact, cleverly and dynamically achieving a visual, physical manifestation of its themes and emotions. Directed and co-written by Natalie Erika James in her feature debut, Relic focuses on the three women above any other spectacle. They represent three generations, each attempting to understand and communicate with the others, with the younger members of the trio secretly fearing that they, too, will face the horrors of aging and decay. This emotional center drives the rest of the story. Better still, Relic manages to talk about dementia without seeming like an issue-driven movie.

With its vivid lighting, sound design, and set design, the movie has a strong, creepy haunted-house vibe. As Kay and Sam poke around the house, many seemingly innocuous objects start to take on darker vibes: a chair, a stained-glass window, a ring, candles, etc. But when things really get going in the final section, Relic builds some deeply terrifying moments, recalling Mark Z. Danielewski's great novel House of Leaves and pulling off images of the imagination that might have seemed unfilmable. Of course, nothing would have worked without the three nuanced lead performances, especially Nevin in the most difficult role; her radical switchbacks in mood are scary but human.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Relic's scary stuff. What's the appeal of scary movies?

  • What does the movie have to say about dementia? How does it equate horror elements with this real-life condition?

  • Is the movie violent? How much is shown, and how much is suggested? How does sound work to make unseen violence seem more threatening?

  • What are the family relationships in the story like? How are they similar or different from your own family relationships?

  • How is smoking represented? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

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