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"It transcends the horror genre." New Stan movie Relic is beautiful and utterly terrifying.

As kids we grow up thinking that monsters who go bump in the night are what nightmares are made of, but as adults, we know that true terrors are found in everyday life.

This is the underlying premise of Relic, the critically acclaimed new horror movie which has premiered on Stan.

Relic tells the story of Edna (Australian theatre legend Robyn Nevin) the elderly and widowed matriarch of her family who mysteriously goes missing from her remote home in Victoria. Her daughter Kay (Mary Poppins Returns star Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bloom star Bella Heathcote) travel to the family home to help police search for her.

Edna returns, but it quickly becomes clear that a sinister presence is now haunting the house and slowly taking control of her.

The film, which was co-written and directed by Japanese-Australian filmmaker Natalie Erika James, utilises the horrors of the film as a manifestation of dementia, weaving supernatural themes into a film that looks at what it’s really like to watch a loved one slowly slip away.

Take a look at the trailer for Relic, streaming only on Stan.


The humanity behind the horror of Relic comes from the fact that it’s based on a series of events pulled from Natalie’s own family life.

The idea came to Natalie during a trip to Japan several years ago, to see her grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. It was a trip she had kept delaying for one reason or another, and when she finally arrived to see her, it turned out she’d left it too late – her grandmother no longer recognised her.

In Relic, Robyn Nevin’s character Edna has been overtaken by a supernatural entity, one that causes her body to rapidly decay and for her to become a stranger to her loved ones.

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For Nevin, the true grit of the story came from the complicated relationship between the family, and the sadness that comes from Edna’s condition as she loses her sense of self.

“Edna is still grieving the loss of her husband,” Nevin told Mamamia. “The house is all she has left and it’s a place of memories. But now those memories have become the cause of grief for her.

“There’s actually a scene in Relic where she tries to bury her photographs, she starts to chew the photos, to eat them. It’s out of some terrible need to eliminate them somehow because she’s in terrible pain from grief and is physically decaying.

“She has a very difficult relationship with her daughter and a much easier relationship with her granddaughter,” Robyn continued.

“It’s these relationships I find interesting. I have a daughter, who is now 50, and we are very close now, but we’ve been through periods where our relationship has been very difficult.

“I have experienced the difficulty of a mother and daughter relationship. I also had quite a difficult relationship with my own mother, and as we know, these patterns can repeat if we are not careful.

“I didn’t understand the horror elements really, I skipped over a lot of the big print in the text because it was the dialogue, the scenes between the women and the script itself I found complex and truthful.”

Emily Mortimer and Robyn Nevin in Relic, directed and co-written by Natalie Erika James. Image: Stan.
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For English actress Emily Mortimer, the drawcard of Relic was that it wasn't afraid to dive into the taboo subject of death within a chilling and deeply beautiful horror film.

"I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything that deals with the process of death and of watching someone you love die, like this movie does," Mortimer told Mamamia.

"It’s a horror movie, but the way it tells the story has transcended the horror genre. A lot of horror movies have also done this over the years, they are now more than just straight guilty pleasure style films.

"Just look at Get Out, The Babadook and The Witch, there have been so many of them," she continued. "What’s so cool about Relic is that it’s about the horror of real-life and the beauty of it.

What's particularly compelling about Relic is the way it never relies on special effects or jump scares to inject fear into the audience's hearts, instead utilising clever production design and carefully woven plot points to put you in the character's shoes. Locked away in this house with a seemingly evil new entity.

"The effects are just exquisite, I really loved that it wasn’t reliant on CGI or any of that," Mortimer said.  "It was all real, using an object or a puppet in the room, so that it felt like this entity was a living, breathing person on the set with us."

The way Relic depicted the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters added an extra layer of interesting tension to the horror story playing out on screen, according to Mortimer.

"I’m somebody’s mother and somebody's daughter," she said, "So I knew there was a very powerful story here. The paradox of mothers and daughters feeling such love on the one hand, while also feeling so much regret and guilt on the other, is an interesting one. The idea that all these feelings belong in the same relationship.

"I went out with Bella the last night of filming and I got more drunk than I ever have, since I was a teenager. It was a very intense experience but a very safe one, we all got along so well."

Emily Mortimer as Kay in Relic. Image: Stan.
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Actress Bella Heathcote echoed Mortimer's sentiments that the cast went through an emotional on-set experience while bringing Relic to life and that her scenes, in particular, were physically and emotionally draining.

“The script is written in a way that trusts the audience to get to know these complicated women and still be completely on their side when the sh*t hits the fan," Bella told Mamamia. 

"We all went to some pretty dark places while filming, particularly the scenes where my character Sam is trapped in the walls of Edna's house and ends up crawling through a sort of labyrinth.

“That was one of the most intense scenes for me and we had to shoot it across five days. It was really rough because it’s just me on my own, completely unravelling. But because those scenes in the house are so disturbing, it did most of the work for me. I really felt like the walls were closing in.

“Most of the days I was in tears on set. There was one day where Natalie asked me to do one more take where I’m banging on the walls and screaming 'Mum!' and I ended up crying and saying to her 'Natalie, I’m not a robot!'" she laughed.

“It’s rare to see a movie like this, especially a horror film, where the leads are all female and with a woman at the helm.”

Stan Original Film Relic is now streaming – only on Stan.


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