Based on the best-selling novel, Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The Relic is a 1997 horror that mixes cultural beliefs with scientific research to create a snore-fest of a monster movie that looks quite dated now.
The movie opens in South America as we meet John Witney, an anthropologist for the Museum of Natural History, studying an ancient tribe. They make him some sort of broth using leaves & when he drinks it he is terrified of a painted-up tribesman.
Sometime later we see John trying to stop cargo he arranged to be sent back to the Museum. Whatever is in there he is desperate to not see it leave South America but he is unable to stop it.
The crates end up at the museum where Dr Margo Green & Dr Frock discover them to be empty except for a strange ancient statue & some green leaves with a fungus growing on them. Meanwhile Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta is investigating the ship that brought the crates to the US after it was found abandoned. After looking around with his partner they discover the bodies of the crew mutilated.
That night a security guard is attacked & decapitated in the museum. D’Agosta believes the two cases to be linked much to his superiors’ frustration. He strikes up a friendship with Dr Green who has discovered that the fungus on the leaves seems to be able to mutate & evolve creatures at a super-fast rate.
D’Agosta believes that the killer is still at large in the museum so tries to close it down. However he is forced to allow an opening night gala for the rich & famous to go ahead. Even with a heavy police presence the monster attacks resulting in the museum going into lock-down. The remaining survivors are trapped inside at the mercy of something that is out to kill all of them.
At nearly 2 hours long The Relic is something of a chore to get through. It’s well-acted with some decent twists & turns but suffers from far too exposition. There are far too many lengthy scientific conversations that could have been summed up far quicker. Even when it becomes obvious just what the monster is the film persists at trying to rationally explain it.
It fails miserably at it though because it basically amounts too…this fungus on this leaf makes things change & grow very fast.
Visually it’s not aged well. The practical effects look robotic & unconvincing while the CGI is almost cartoonish at times. However, the gorier moments hold up particularly well with some nicely done violent kills to sate the bloodthirsty out there.
The Relic does make efforts to tell a more human story & pushes the monster into the background. However other then it’s location it really isn’t that original. See if this rings a bell…dead bodies turn up implying that a particular location is now compromised. An authority figure tries to figure things out. A potential suspect is found/killed resulting in the higher-ups being convinced the case is now solved. The authority figure isn’t so sure but is forced to re-open the beach…I mean…the location. Creature/killer goes on a rampage resulting in much death.