Friday, 1 April 2016

The Relic

Peter Hyams, 1997, UK-Germany-New Zealand-USA

Derivative and formulaic on the one hand, unpretentious and decently executed on the other, ‘The Relic’ is both undemanding and occasionally surprising. Animal DNA in Brazilian leaves are brought back to a city museum and hold the starting ingredients for a bizarre mongrel of a monster. It’s a dark film, full of shadows and an obvious debt to ‘Alien’, ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Jaws’, etc; its mixing of science and mythology go back to ‘Creature to the Black Lagoon’ and Quatermass; its characters are typical and bland ~ a tough talking, no nonsense detective and a tough talking but sexy female scientist who turns into Sigourney Weaver by the end, etc. On the plus side, Hyams deals with the proceedings with a healthy merciless streak, ensuring a high body-count, throwing in a couple of memorable set-pieces. Of course, every creature feature depends upon its monster, and the always impressive Stan Winston and friends brings to life a gloriously absurd creation that all-but redeems a plot that’s a relic in itself. Its a big, agile, implausibly quiet thing with a Dario Argento-like penchant for decapitation. Once Hyams gets down to the action, he gets interested. Afterwards it’s only left to ask how it took four writers to conjure up and what the monster was doing in the toilets in the first place?  

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