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DVD Review

DVD cover

Dark Relic
Sir Gregory - The Crusader


Starring: James Frain and Samues West
Koch Media
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 09 April 2012

The war in the Holy Land has taken its toll. Now at its end, Sir Gregory, who once commanded more than a hundred men, has but a few men at arms to keep him company. 1066AD, with his mind on returning home Sir Gregory has a genuine relic revealed to him, a part of the original cross that Jesus of Nazereth died on. With such an important find Gregory determines to take his trove to the Pope in Rome, but the journey soon becomes perilous as the group are beset by wolves and a particularly vicious demon...

Dark Relic (2010 - 1 hr, 23 min, 25 sec) is a made for television historical horror film, directed by Lorenzo Sena, from an Andy Briggs screenplay. The film is famous/infamous for having its title determined by a viewer competition.

Some of the movies that Syfy have made, over the years, have been truly terrible, so I don’t know whether my initial low expectations played a role in the fact that I ended up quite enjoying the film.

When we first meet Sir Gregory he has long since lost his appetite for war. Weary of the killing, he is just glad to be going home. The journey home does not go well. First the ship they are on hits a storm which kills most of the sailors and dumps Gregory and his group on unknown shores, even odder is the disappearance of the ship as soon as they turn their backs.

Moving inland they encounter a wagon train being attacked by bandits. They join the Turkish defenders, Hassan and his wife, who following the attack decides to join Gregory. The small group move ever further from the Holy Land and each step takes them into greater danger.

James Frain provides a solid lead as Gregory, even making something of the average script. Thankfully, the cast decided to deliver their lines in a naturalistic manner, avoiding the temptation to place odd inflections on their lines, as has been witnessed in similar projects. Clemency Burton-Hill does a good job as Gregory’s new proto squeeze, though she is battling, most of the time, against mundane lines, she continues to do what she can.

The stand out performance of the film came from Alyy Khan, playing Hasan, a Turkish, Muslim soldier who, along with his wife, join Gregory on his quest. Firstly, it’s nice to see a portrayal of a Muslim which doesn’t either portray him as the bad guy or go overboard in trying to say what nice guys muslins are. Here, Hasan’s religion is as much a part of his life as Gregory’s Christianity; the fact that they are both men of faith actually creates the common ground between them. Secondly Khan has some real screen presence, stealing most of the scenes he is in.

There’s no denying that the film is made on a very small budget, but the director has done what he can with the locations and sets to make the film look better than it should do. Like many of these things, it’s the CGI which lets it down. The wolf attack is blurred to disguise the poor quality of the animation and the demon wouldn’t have looked out of place in a computer game five years ago. But if you can suspend your disbelief there is much to enjoy in this tale.

The disc supplied was a screener, so no extras, not even a menu and an odd inability to fast forward the disc, meaning that I really had no choice but to watch the whole thing. I certainly wouldn’t have turned it over if I was watching it on the television and would consider purchasing it, if the price was reasonably low.


Charles Packer

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