The Relic (Blu-ray)
Back in the 90s there were a slew of horror/sci-fi films that were overly excited to use some of the new digital technology, which seemed pretty advanced at the time. However, besides JURASSIC PARK many just threw them together without perfecting to create a cool monster. THE RELIC definitely is one of those ‘B’ horror films that think it’s better than it is.
The story begins with a strange empty crate, received from a missing researcher in South America at Chicago’s Museum of Natural History. At the same time mysterious gruesome deaths keep happening at the museum ever since the crate arrived. Police investigator Lt. Vincent D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) works with Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller) from the museum to figure out the cause. They must work quickly because a prestigious benefit reception with the mayor is being held at the museum. Unknown to all of them, except the viewer, a large creature is roaming the premises.
The lighting and black levels are way too dark. You can barely see what is happening half of the time. I understand wanting the look to be more natural and scary but if we can’t see what’s going on as a viewer it’s almost pointless. I will hand it to director Peter Hyams; he seems to know how to make jump moments in a film. THE RELIC is riddled with cheap scare spots but it works. It’s not until mid film where the creature is revealed that the film loses any intensity or scare, but before that it was really on track. Hyams definitely sets up unlikable characters for audiences to enjoy watch get dismembered, but it’s all very old and predictable. It’s almost like he thought of cool scenes or images that he could film then worked the story around that. Many times the creature would show up randomly for a kill spot then leave again.
The two leads, Tom Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller, do an ok job but they really don’t have much to work with. They are both used to supporting roles so it was nice they got their shot as a more leading character in a film, and this was probably about the best caliber film they received. You put Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in these roles and the film is even worse because you expect it to be better with such high profile stars.
So what we have here is a typical horror movie that runs through clichés only this time the monster has some CG moments that reminds you, you’re watching a movie. A few jump moments tied nicely to a few great sound cues and ta-da you got yourself a horror movie. A typical, mediocre horror movie.
Video: 1080p High Definition 2.35:1. Like I said before, extremely dark. This is not the Blu-rays fault it is the director’s choice. Just make sure you turn off all your lights, otherwise you will not be able to see what is happening.
Audio: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Great sound. The creature had a neat wheezing that really comes through with the surround sound in moments well before he has approached. The base booms through for some of the jump moments. My one complaint is all the cool loud sounds seem to overpower any dialogue; levels seem a little too soft after following the overpowering sound and music of the creature.
Commentary with Peter Hyams: He gives a great technical commentary. He actually discusses his reasoning for some of my complaints about the film. Specifically he addresses his poor lighting choices. Although I disagree with Hyams, I must say I respect him. He is open and honest and a guy that loves films. He also talks a little about ALIEN and JAWS, which is a surefire way into my heart.
The Filmmaker’s Lens: An Interview with Peter Hyams (10:10): This is a short interview with the director. He talks more about him becoming a filmmaker and artist and less about the movie, which is definitely a pro. I found him quite insightful and interesting but he does mention most of these things in the audio commentary as well.