Fright at the Museum
Superstitious detective Vincent D'Agosta (Tom Sizemore) is called to the docks where a ship has been towed in with no one aboard, except for several mutilated bodies discovered in the bilge tank. It is because of them that D'Agosta is also called to investigate a murder at the Chicago Museum of Natural History when a security guard's decapitated body and half eaten brain is discovered in a wash room. The two cases are connected as cargo belonging to the missing Dr. John Whitney was due to be on the boat but arrived by air freight instead and evolutionary biologist Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller) is investigating a fungus which arrived on packing leaves. What neither Green nor D'Agosta realises is that a huge creature has hatched and is behind all the deaths.
Peter Hyams "The Relic" reminds me of a cross between "Arachnophobia" and "The Poseidon Adventure" with a touch of "Aliens" thrown in for good measure. That may make it sound quite exciting, or all over the place, but in truth "The Relic" is one of the most ordinary creature/horror movies I have watched, rarely causing a fright or drawing me to the edge of my seat in eager anticipation. It's not that it is terrible, in fact "The Relic" is on par with many creature/horror movies but it never manages to escape the shackles and become something more than just another movie.
Now you can split "The Relic" into sections with the opening being your standard deadly creature arriving in America in packaging. There is a bit of a twist on this as whilst usually we have bugs or creatures ending up in the packaging this time it is the actual packaging, tropical leaves which are the cause as they contain a virus. But it is all quite typical especially when we have a cop investigating the decapitated bodies trying to work out what could have done it and of course initially thinking it must be something drug or gang related.
Anyway this typical section evolves into disaster territory because the museum is to pay host to a big party and despite Det. D'Agosta not wanting it to go ahead has to bow to pressure and permit it. This eventually leads to chaos when this creature starts running rampage and you have a group of guests trying to escape via the boiler room whilst you have those, the nasty sort of guests, who insist on staying put. You know what will happen because everything about the storyline is traditional and so there are no surprises.
Plus of course we have the unlikely duo of det. D'Agosta and Dr. Green who end up trying to work together to find a way of saving the day by killing the creature. In typical fashion we get the head shake moment when suddenly they come up with answers and explanations with no foundation but then this is typical of the genre. And that means we have some action, some heroics and with D'Agosta being superstitious some of that to, although they missed a prime opportunity to make that side of "The Relic" a lot more entertaining.
So in a way with everything about "The Relic" being standard the thing which could have saved it would be the special effects, the actual monster. Now in fairness decapitated heads are shocking especially when a brain is lying nearby and the whole "Aliens" style action in dark tunnels mixed with a monster with some scary looking teeth is not bad. But again none of this amounts to anything more than being familiar and it never really gets you frightened or laughing which wouldn't have been a bad thing either.
Probably the most disappointing aspect of all this is that "The Relic" stars Tome Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller but neither of them get anything much to do other than deliver paper thin characters. It just adds to the fact that as creature/horror movies go this is nothing more than ordinary.
What this all boils down to is that "The Relic" is not a bad movie just a very ordinary one which does nothing new or better than many other creature/horror movies.