Found-Again Friday: The Relic (Movie)

Why Found-Again? I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve owned this for quite some time; it forms one half of my only non-Vincent-Price horror twofer with Pet Sematary 2 (and I still wonder if that’s because someone thought the blonde housekeeper in the latter was Penelope Ann Miller, who stars in The Relic).

I remembered it as being not bad, despite the absence of the original book’s main character—Aloysius X.L. “Men Want To Be Him, This Writer Wants To Pre-Order Every Book About Him, Preferably NOW” Pendergast—and a few other point-of-view characters from the novel. In fairness, unkillable ex-special-ops genius gazillionaire Pendergast could easily become the least believable thing in even a horror movie.

The Premise: Something is killing people at the natural history museum where Margo Green (Miller) is a postdoc. It’s up to Margo and police lieutenant D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) to unravel the mystery of the creature—both its origins in a failed expedition and what to do about it now—and when the security system malfunctions at a museum gala, hundreds of people are trapped with a hungry monster.

Considering how many cheap tricks the movie starts with—a garden-variety jungle scene, a cat scare, making D’Agosta superstitious because the museum is having a Superstition exhibit, get it?—and the number of characters cut in the adaptation, The Relic is surprisingly faithful to the source material. I’d even argue that it ends up further humanizing some of the characters that remain, especially the museum official played by Linda Hunt (though that could be because Linda Hunt is always terrific). The transition from murder investigation to full-on monster-based chaos is especially good, as a perfect storm of technical glitches and human panic starts what the creature wants to finish. And the end is tense (and fiery, which differs from the book, but by that time, who cares?).

The Verdict: Mixed, in that one minute I was writing down all the things I liked about it and the next I just wanted to take a break and finish watching tomorrow. It does lag a bit before the exhibit opening, but all in all, I think The Relic is underrated—even without you-know-who.

I’d also like to note, even though there are now websites for this sort of thing, that one fewer dog dies in this movie than in the book. When was the last time a movie did that?

Might go well with: Salad, kebabs, and if you enjoy fire on film, the first Hellboy movie. (Note: I think nearly everything in life goes well with the first Hellboy movie.)

 

Next time: The final fight in Highlander is upon us. There may even be audio.

J. A.

It reads. It writes. It watches. It researches. It overdoes many of those things!

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