Body horror, a haunted house story, and a multigenerational, dysfunctional family drama all combine in Natalie Erika James’ new scary movie “Relic.” Starring Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin, “Relic” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, and will soon open from IFC Midnight in theaters and on demand beginning July 10. Watch the official trailer below.
“Relic” is the feature debut of Australian-Japanese writer, director, and producer James, who brings to this gothic tale a background in music videos and short films tinged with a dark fairytale edge. In the film, Mortimer plays a woman whose elderly mother Edna mysteriously vanishes, so she takes her daughter, played by Heathcote, to their dilapidated country home, where they discover clues of the matriarch’s increasing dementia. Soon, Edna (Nevin) suddenly returns, but as a much more volatile and insidious woman than she was before, and she’s not keen on revealing her whereabouts, either. But Edna seems to have brought with her an evil presence that will force the three generations of women to confront the traumas and demons of their past.
“Relic” currently sits with a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. After its Sundance world premiere, Variety’s Jessica Kiang wrote, “This talented debut writer-director has unusual confidence in her storytelling and beds its more lurid excesses so deeply in the cleanly drawn psychologies of her three actors that it feels like it grows out of them organically, like a twisted tree. And here she’s capably abetted by Mortimer, Heathcote and Nevin’s excellent performances that draw the intergenerational relationships between grandmother, mother and daughter with lived-in subtlety and insight.”
With its exploration of the horror genre through the lens of female-led, twisted family dynamics, “Relic” has drawn comparisons to “The Babadook” and “Hereditary,” two other slow-burn chillers out of Sundance that went on to define the current state of the genre — and launched the careers of indie icons Jennifer Kent and Ari Aster, respectively. Natalie Erika James looks to be joining their ranks as a horror director to watch with “Relic,” which she co-wrote with Christian White.
Check out the trailer for “Relic” below.