Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Hollywood can learn from The Relic

Although it didn't light up the box office during it's initial run, The Relic has, for me at least, stood the test of time, and been a flick I can watch again and again.

I recall catching it twice on opening weekend in 1997,  then at least a couple of times on VHS (remember those?). Then it fell off my radar for a while. A long while, actually, because I didn't revisit The Relic until a couple of years ago, when I rented it on VOD.

And that's when something magical happen. The flick clicked with something in my brain, and I've caught it four times since, and purchased it digitally last night.

What is it about The Relic that works? Well, it's a lot of fun, which is something many modern movies, horror or otherwise, aren't. Sure, there's a dark, moody atmosphere, high body count, and gore. But it also has something many non-comedies don't anymore -- a sense of humour.

I'm not talking the self-referential kind of humour genre films tend to have. You know, the kind that pokes fun at itself while delivering the goods. Nor is it campy or silly.

The Relic infuses humour naturally, via the characters and their interactions. It's things people say. and how they say them. Things you or I might say during our day-to-day goings on. By doing so, the movie has a kind of charm that just works.

Case in point, this great autopsy scene featuring Audra Lindley. The character is funny, but not in a silly way. I've met coroners in my day, and many bring a sense of humour to their gruesome work. Check it:

The cast is good too, at least within the parameters of a genre movie. Tom Sizemore, usually a character actor or heavy, is given one of his rare lead roles, and he does well as a superstitious homicide cop. Then there's Penelope Ann Miller, who might not be the most convincing evolutionary biologist, but her banter with Sizemore is solid and we get to see her in a little black dress. Good enough for me!

We can't forget the creature work by the late, great Stan Winston either. Sure, some of it involves early CGI rendering, but a lot of the monster is practical, and practical is always better.

In short, Hollywood, how about you lighten things up a bit, give us some likeable characters with a sense of humour, and don't be afraid to unleash the old-school monster effects. If you do, you might have more movies that stand the test of time, and aren't forgotten within eight weeks.

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