The Relic is a monster movie, and it doesn't really have any delusions about being something else. It is, however, founded on an interesting premise.
John Whitney (an 'n' from being "whitey") is an anthropologist studying a newly discovered indigenous tribe in South America. He imbibes some concoction during a ceremony, and freaks-out from the hallucinations he has. A short time later he is desperate to have some crates unloaded from a ship in Chicago, but is told by the Captain that it is too late to unload. He sneaks onto the ship only to discover that the crates he seeks are no longer on board.
Weeks later, Detective Vincent D'Agosta is investigating the disappearance of the ship's crew. At first, it is assumed that the missing crew is somehow related to a drug-deal gone bad. The detective then discovers the bodies and decapitated heads of the crew in the ship's bilge.
|It was the soup or sleeping with that native girl that did this.|
Meanwhile, at the Museum of Natural History, Dr. Margo Green and her mentor, Dr. Frock, open Whitney's cases and find leaves with a strange fungus along with a statue of "Kothoga", a forest monster. The strange fungus, which is later discovered to be loaded with animal hormones and have mutagenic properties, transforms a beetles into a much larger and different creature.
Fred Ford, a security guard at the museum, is killed and decapitated in the same manner as the crew of the ship, and Detective D'Agosta is called in to investigate. The museum is preparing for a major gala and opening, funded and supported by the Chicago's elite. The gala is allowed to go on, despite the murder, and Detective D'Agosta and Dr. Green discover that a monster has been set loose in the museum which feeds on a hormone produced in the hypothalamus of its victims. They must discover the nature of the beast and how to stop it before it snacks on the high-society of Chicago.
|Who hasn't thought about this happening to them?|
What is interesting about the premise is the monster's origin. The tribe discovered by Whitney has survived by unleashing a genetically manufactures monstrosity on its enemies. They perceive the incursion of "whitey" into their territory as a threat. As we push deeper and deeper into the last remaining wilds on our planet, are we prepared for what we may find?
The best part of this film for me was not the special effects, which were well done, or the story, which managed to put a decent spin on the monster-movie, it was the dialogue. Like this nugget:
|I've seen enough hentai to know where this is going...|
Dr. Zwiezic: "Seven decapitations in one week. Don't you just hate killers, who take head and never give it?"
HILARIOUS! Tom Sizemore, who plays D'Agosta, is in his element as the hard-nosed tough, and gets the bulk of the best lines. The film is shot almost entirely from the museum, which also proves to be a strength, containing a variety of creepy environs and weird places for characters to wander.
The Relic is a fun romp, especially for those who prefer that their horror not be too serious.