Writer/director J.M. Logan’s horror short The Relic starts pretty much just before where the climax of a feature film would be kicking in, dropping viewers in on a highly tense, dizzying situation. The short builds from there into a grand, breathtaking climax. Mind-bending visuals, solid performances from its ensemble cast, and suspenseful direction highlight this fast-paced shocker.
The set-up may sound familiar, but don’t let that stop you from seeking out this gem. A group of explorers (Stephanie Einstein, Jesse Einstein, Megan Le, and Johnny Wactor) are isolated in a cabin in a remote, frozen area with paranoia and suspicion running high, and matters revolving around an ancient legend. Three of the group members have discovered a man seemingly on the threshold of death who is speaking in an unknown tongue. The fourth member has been missing, and her arrival only heightens the frenzied proceedings.
Logan, whose previous directorial work includes the winning horror comedy short Lunch Ladies (reviewed here), has crafted a top-notch horror short with science fiction and Lovecraftian leanings. His screenplay features gripping dialogue and just enough information to throw viewers smack-dab into the middle of the story, which leaves plenty to mull over after the ending credits.
The creature design looks stunning, and both the practical and visual effects look fantastic. The cast members all give impressive performances, and even though there is no time for backstory, they invest their characters with plenty of verve so that viewers get invested in them.
The Relic is superb work by Logan, who also edited this short marvelously. If he can pack this much fear-fare fun into a 14-minute short, it would be a blast to see what he would do with a feature-length version of the tale.
The Relic screened as part of MidWest WeirdFest, which took place at the Micon Cinemas Downtown in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, from March 5–7, 2021.(4.5 / 5)