The Relic

They did the unthinkable. They brought it back.

Horror Mystery Thriller
110 min     5.979     1997     Germany


A homicide detective teams up with an evolutionary biologist to hunt a giant creature that is killing people in a Chicago museum.


John Chard wrote:
Pot's a misdemeanour. Decapitation seems a bit severe. The Relic is directed by Peter Hyams (also cinematographer) and based on the best-selling novel written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The film stars Tom Sizemore, Penelope Ann Miller, James Whitmore and Linda Hunt. The music score is composed by John Debney. The Museum of Natural History in Chicago takes delivery of some crates from South America. Sent by an employee, John Whitney, one of the crates appears to be just full of leaves. However, just as the museum prepares to launch a major exhibition, where all the city's top brass will be present, a security guard is horrifically killed. Can superstitious cop Lt. Vincent D'Agosta (Sizemore) and evolutionary biologist Dr. Margo Green (Miller) get to the bottom of the mystery before it's too late? From the bunch of creature feature movies that surfaced in the 1990s, The Relic may not win prizes for originality of plotting, but it scores high for tension and gloopy fun. Though the decent budget is evident ($70,000,000), the film has all the old fashioned values to make a creature feature work. Rank and file staples come thick and fast; boo jump moments, characters refusing to accept the un-normal, silly kids, silly coppers, a potential hero and heroine, possible romance, some sci-fi babble, a curse, and of course the creature itself - a big hybrid of god knows what! with the "Kothoga" being a snarling, slimy monstrosity that goes about the museum lopping heads off some inept human beings with carefree abandon. What's not to like there? Though Hyams is no genius director, he is, as his CV suggests, more than capable at crafting a polished movie. Such is the case here, where the "B" movie story is given good technical treatment. The lighting (you may have to adjust your settings here) and editing serve the atmosphere well, while the sound work is of the required horror requisitional standard. More importantly, though, Hyams is aware of building up the tension by not unleashing the creature far too soon. We know it's the killer, and we get little snippets of it here and there, but it's not until all hell breaks loose at the big museum event that we get to see the monster, and it's not a let down. Part animatronic/part computer effect, the "Kothoga" is original and it is scarily great fun. So much so it (thankfully) steers the viewers away from the pedestrian performances of the cast. Not bad exactly, but just doing grizzled and spunky beauty (Sizemore & Miller respectively) doesn't really grab the attention. The best actor on show is Whitmore (tracing a lovely creature feature line from Them! in 1954 to here), but he is badly under written and under used. Still, the minor acting issues matters not, for this is ready made for a Saturday night in with the beer and some snacks, so give it a go and you may just enjoy yourself. 7/10
Gimly wrote:
More than a little genuinely funny dialogue, and I think the creature had a pretty cool design... I'm pretty sure? I don't know though, because every time it appears it's in virtually complete darkness. _Final rating:★★½ - Had a lot that appealed to me, didn’t quite work as a whole._