A single mother gives her son a beloved doll for his birthday, later they find out that the doll is possessed with the soul of a serial killer, who try to put his soul into the boy's body in order to become human.
A researcher at Chicago's Natural History Museum returns from South America with some crates containing his findings. When the crates arrive at the museum without the owner there appears to be very little inside. However, police discover gruesome murders on the cargo ship that brought the crates to the US and then another murder in the museum itself. Investigating the murders is Lt. Vincent D'Agosta who enlists the help of Dr. Margo Green at the museum - she has taken an interest in the contents of her colleague's crates. Unknown to both there is a large creature roaming the museum which is gearing itself up for a benefit reception which the city's mayor is to attend. Written by
The title misled me when I first heard of this and saw it back in '97. To me, a relic is some old artifact, and I figured this had something to do with a curse, such as bringing something dead back to life. In, uh, reality, this is about re-arranging existing life, remolding it through wicked biological mutation inside a very basic 'monster-on-the-loose' plot. A very basic drawback for me has to do with visuals, but not the FX, as one might expect. Hyams, the director, also functioned as director of photography (as is usual for him) and I believe he might have been aiming for some extra spookiness in all the scenes taking place in the dark (or, over half the film). But he over extended himself here - the scenes are just too dark, or else the transfers of this film to video and DVD failed to follow someone's instructions. Instead of jumping at the scares, a viewer may instead find himself straining to figure out what's going on. Some of the basic plot turns are clumsy: early on, we are shown the results of a massacre on board a ship, yet the ship docked without problems (?). So, the massacre happened right after it docked (?). No one at the port noticed anything going on...?
However, the cast is good: Sizemore has the wiseguy veteran cop role down pat; Miller is sexy in that coltish brainy redhead way; Hunt is always interesting; and Whitmore never gave a bad performance in his 50+ year career. The main innovation in this creature feature is that the main action takes place in a huge museum (in Chicago). There's also more mention of the 'hypothalamus' - a section of the brain - than in most movies. Otherwise, it follows the old standard formula of political expediency versus common sense law enforcement. Everyone thinks the killer is, of course, the human serial-style variety; the cop feels something ain't right; the politicians have their way for a gala event. This is where things take off, with the monster stalking the elites in the darkened museum. To the film's credit, once the tough guys (a SWAT team) show up, things don't fall neatly into place - the monster makes short work of some of these guys. Early use of digital FX was somewhat startling back then; when the thing grabs a hapless cop, there's no need for a cutaway to a different angle, as in the pre-digital days. Yuk.
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