Flashy and stylish as only nineties creature movies can be, The Relic offers a familiar story and great production values. Everything in this movie was done by the book and feels very cozy. Especially if you’re a fan of these movies. Based on a novel, it has a certain Michael Crichton (Congo, Sphere, The 13th Warrior) vibe to it. Although we’re more in the realm of Bram Stoker’s Dracula complete with the secret arrival in a ship. None of it really matters as this is basically a forgettable and yet effective creature feature.
We follow a detective as he tries to locate the person responsible for a string of bizarre murders. Soon, the trail leads him to the Museum of Natural History, now a site of a vicious murder. The museum setting was quite refreshing as we too often end up in some dark subways and other familiar places. Also, the focus on the police investigation will make you feel like you’re watching a serial killer movie. Only we know who the killer is from the get-go.
The visuals are excellent and the creature was designed by none other than Stan Winston. He’s the guy behind such classics as The Thing, The Terminator, and Aliens among others. And he did one hell of a job here. The CGI finally started looking more realistic so we also get a lot of cool action scenes with our creature. I only wish the lighting was a bit better as most of the scenes feel too dark. At least we will witness at least six or seven decapitations.
A ship from South America just arrived in the Chicago harbor with some pretty unsettling cargo. All the passengers aboard are dead leaving detective Vincent D’Agosta puzzled. The ship was carrying some items bound for the Museum of Natural History where another dead body pops up. D’Agosta will now have to team up with Margo Green, an evolutionary biologist working at the museum, to find out what is going on.
The attention to detail made The Relic much more fun and entertaining than it should’ve been. The guard in the museum sneaking off to smoke some weed, office pranks and the inner workings of a museum all provided a sense of authenticity. And offered something more than just a hunt for a strange monster. This also means that we will have to wait a lot for the action to kick off.
However, once all this pent-up tension is released, it will generate one hell of a kick. This is the time when things get really exciting. The Relic belongs to a late nineties wave of science fiction horror movies like Mimic, Species, and The Faculty. I also shouldn’t forget to mention Wishmaster, a very entertaining movie featuring a similar story, only involving a Djinn instead of a creature.
Director: Peter Hyams
Writers: Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Amy Holden Jones
Cast: Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, James Whitmore, Clayton Rohner, Chi Muoi Lo
Fun Stuff: The superstition exhibit features a giant head of a monster at its entrance which is in fact a replica of the Orcus gate at Parco del Mostri (Park of the Monsters) in Bomarzo, Italy.