Directed by Natalie Erika James | Australia / USA | 2020 | 1 hr 29 mins
When her elderly mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) inexplicably vanishes, daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) rush to their family’s decaying country home and find clues of Edna’s 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. However, as Edna’s behaviour becomes increasingly volatile, both begin to sense that an insidious presence in the house might be taking control of her.
Director Natalie Erika James’ chilling debut feature is at once a startling fresh take on the classic haunted-house film and a devastating portrait of the real-life horror of dementia. The film’s three leads are exemplary in their portrayal of a family torn apart from within by an unseen force; three generations of women facing an existential threat that seemingly comes from nowhere and taints everything and everyone it touches. At its heart, RELIC is a thoughtful, beautifully designed and immaculately constructed horror film, with an atmosphere of creeping dread that permeates throughout. With plentiful moments of quiet terror and literal bumps in the night, this chilly exploration of psychological unease will linger in your mind for some time and establishes James as formidable talent to watch.
Screening with MALAKOUT + CHANGELING