My mother passed away two years ago after a prolonged struggle with a degenerative disease, and watching her slowly rot for weeks in palliative care were some of the worst of my life: Taking care of a dying loved one and seeing the degradation of their personalities and bodies as they approach their sunset is hell on earth. Frankly, it didn’t occur to me how isolating it was to go through that experience (because I didn’t want to burden my friends with the weight on my shoulders so I kept most of it to myself other than the contours) until I watched “Relic.” I’ve never seen a horror movie that’s rooted in the deep sorrow and bottomless fear that accompanies watching a loved one die, and how it’s an experience that’s terribly lonely and bone-rattlingly frightening, the kind of terror that’s impossible to describe and that you wouldn’t even wish on your enemies. There are shades of modern horror classics like “The Babadook,” “The Witch” and (especially) “Hereditary” running through the movie’s DNA, and like those other titles it manages to literalize the emotional horrors at the heart of their respective stories, so if you like those you should seek this out out immediately. It’s an immersive, deeply unsettling and ultimately cathartic experience that will find ways to appeal to new audiences for decades to come because its core thesis is the universality of our collective fear of death and the horror of helplessly watching a loved one slip away.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)