Hopefully you’ve see Relic now that the movie is available to watch on VOD, but just in case you haven’t had the chance just yet, do know that you’ve really got something to look forward to with Natalie Erika James’ feature directorial debut. The movie stars Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote as Edna, Kay and Sam, respectively. When Edna goes missing, Kay and her daughter Sam rush over to help find her. The search fails but then, out of the blue, Edna suddenly returns home and can’t tell them a single thing about where she’s been.
Relic is a highly effective chiller that distills the complicated devastation of dementia, and also our own mortality through genre storytelling. Again, if you haven’t seen it yet, brace yourself for this one; it’s bound to knock the wind out of you. On top of that, James’ craftsmanship is on full display from start to finish. Not only did she assemble a stellar ensemble, but her attention to detail and firm handle on the pacing, tone and themes of the movie proves James has what it takes to keep delivering.
In fact, she’s got a few ideas cooking for her next feature film. While on The Witching Hour to discuss making Relic and talk spoiler, James also took a moment to tease the project she’s developing right now:
“I’m writing a few things and they’re all subgenres of horror and they’re all very personal. [Laughs] I don’t know how else to write a film because I just feel like you spend, you know, minimum two years of your life working on something; you have to care about it that much, surely. So yeah, all three of them are – and they don’t have to be personal experiences. It’s more like personal questions or personal fears, and for me, filmmaking is a great way to just ask those big philosophical questions in your life.”
James continued by putting the spotlight on the project that’s the furtherest along at the moment, Drum Wave:
“The one that’s furthest along is the folklore that I mentioned earlier called Drum Wave, which is set in Japan. It’s got a very like, Rosemary’s Baby, Wicker Man vibe to it. It’s about a woman who’s kind of deeply afraid of motherhood on many levels, and who marries into a family on this remote island to worship a fertility goddess. So when she thwarts their ritual sacrifice, she has to escape being kind of offered up as like a surrogate sacrifice. And also she kind of inexplicably falls pregnant, so it’s dealing with a lot of body horror.”
Earlier in our Witching Hour chat, James mentioned changing an element of Relic because it wound up being too similar to something we had just seen in Hereditary. With that in mind and given the folklore involved in Drum Wave, Haleigh asked if she ran into a similar situation after seeing Midsommar:
“I mean, obviously folklore has commonalities throughout so you can’t avoid those. There’s a massive hallucinogenic element in the script that we wrote and when we saw that we were like, ‘Aw, f*ck.’ But, you know, maybe audiences will forgive us for the repetition.”
If you’re looking for a taste of what James might have to offer with this feature, check out her short film Drum Wave below: