EJ Moreno interviews Natalia Erika James about the inspiration for her new film Relic…
Diving into her new film, Natalie Erika James beams with joy when speaking about Relic. Even with the film’s terrifying and upsetting nature, you can tell it was a labor of love. During a recent roundtable with the director and her cast, I asked about the thought process behind some of the film’s inspired choices.
When asked about where she pulled these ideas from in the making of Relic, Natalie Erika James gave me a detailed answer:
“I guess apart from the personal inspiration, visually, I suppose it’s just an accumulation of everything you kinda consume in your life: all the horror films, the gothic literature, art that you research. You do a lot of visual research as well to come up for the imagery.
“I actually found a notebook that I had taken on that trip when I first began writing Relic. I saw the first line that I had written on it was ‘a young woman tries to save her grandma in a house that appears bigger on the inside than it does on the outside.’ I think that must’ve been influenced by that amazing novel House of Leaves as well. So yeah, I think it’s just an accumulation of ideas. You just find the thematically drive that you really care about, and you find a way to uses the images to talk about that theme or that contention.
“It’s a mix of things. Who even knows? It probably childhood nightmares as well. You know, I used to have graphic recurring nightmares of my mom dying. I’d find her, and she was a skeleton. So, you know, I’m sure it’s all of that too. It’s also the real-life horror, of course. The figure of Edna at the end is not too dissimilar to how people really are in their vulnerability and in their fragility. It’s drawing on all of those things; it’s hard to analyze your brain, I have to say [laughs].”
When elderly mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) inexplicably vanishes, her daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) rush to their family’s decaying country home, finding clues of her increasing dementia scattered around the house in her absence. After Edna returns just as mysteriously as she disappeared, Kay’s concern that her mother seems unwilling or unable to say where she’s been clashes with Sam’s unabashed enthusiasm to have her grandma back. As Edna’s behavior turns increasingly volatile, both begin to sense that an insidious presence in the house might be taking control of her. All three generations of women are brought together through trauma and a powerful sense of strength and loyalty to face the ultimate fear together.
Relic, the new film from director Natalia Erika James, is available now.