Made-for-TV movies, especially those on the SyFy Channel, tend to have a reputation for low quality. This isn’t always true of course; some can have redeeming qualities. This was *almost* the case with Dark Relic, a 2010 Horror/Historical Film set during the First Crusade. The premise is quite interesting: A knight named Sir Gregory and his men find a piece of the True Cross and decide to take the relic to The Pope. Along the way, they rescue two Muslims and a slave from bandits, and they join their quest (the former two because they feel they owe Gregory a debt). However, supernatural evil forces begin attacking them on their journey.
There is a lot of potential here; I particularly liked the use of Muslim characters, showing them to be honorable in their own way; people forget that The Crusaders weren’t exactly Saints themselves. There are also two major female characters, another plus.
Unfortunately, the movie has both plot holes and stupid choices. (Warning, Spoilers ahead.) To begin with, it turns out that, while the relic IS part of the Cross, it is also cursed- why? Apparently just because The Romans put a plaque on it mocking Christ. That’s it. It wasn’t a Satanist, it wasn’t God (at least, that we know of.) The curse is so strong that it attracts evil beings, makes it impossible to remove the plaque, destroy the relic, or even get rid of it! And most holy places fail to protect them, either. Gee, you’d think that God and/or Christ would help them in some way?? You know you have a problem when the characters themselves ask these things. I eventually realized the problem: this is a Horror Film first, and a Historical Drama second. In other words they never intended to give the story a chance- just to tick off all the classic horror movie boxes: slow revelation of the monster(s?) Check. Characters do stupid things? Check. Characters get killed off until only the main ones survive? Check. Oh and (big spoiler here) the Muslim hero dies without returning the favor to Sir Gregory. Did they HAVE to do that?
And they totally ripped off the Balrog from The Hobbit. Really? Couldn’t they afford to be more creative there?
It’s a pity, because as I said, there were some good ideas here. If they had let the story go where it should logically have gone, it would have been more enjoyable, in my opinion.
Still, I enjoyed other factors of the film. Despite the obvious small budget -the special effects were fake-looking and bland at best- the acting was good and you really get caught in the story, especially the interaction between the characters; and the atmosphere of dread gets more intense as the film goes on.
If you’re into horror, historical drama, and aren’t as nitpicky as I am regarding plot details or special effects, you might enjoy this film.