'Relic': cheap scare tactics not allowed

Onze score

This promising film debut by the Australian Natalie Erika James is incontrovertibly a horror film: it features a monster, and everything takes place in the kind of haunted house that once inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write the ingenious Fall of the House of Usher. But cheap scare tactics, however fun they might be, are not welcome.

Slowly but surely, a recognizable family drama transforms into a creeping horror film that gets under your skin and takes its subject seriously. And it is a very serious subject: the inevitable farewell of our mothers and grandmothers and the physical and mental decline that sometimes precede it.

The disappearance of grandmother Edna (Robyn Nevin) brings daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) to the ancestral home a few hours' drive from the big city. Edna shows up again after a few days but seems oblivious to any problems. But indications that something is wrong keep stacking up. While bickering about what to do next, the three do not realize that the house is inexplicably becoming sinister and labyrinthine. A brave film.

AU, dir.: Natalie Erika James, act.: Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote

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