Natalie Erika James never pictured herself as a horror film director, yet when she looks back on her life now, it all makes sense.
The Melbourne based Japanese-Australian writer and director describes her younger self as “a massive bookworm” who fell in love with storytelling at a young age, learning the ins and outs of filmmaking early on from director Peter Jackson, via her Lord of the Rings DVD boxset.
“I spent my teen years making these really well-intentioned but pretty terrible short films,” Natalie told Mamamia. “I eventually used film as a medium in art in high school and it was enough to get me into VCA (Victorian College Of The Arts).”
Natalie went on to win the Australian Music Video of the Year at the 2015 Triple J Awards for directing the music video Mine by artist Life is Better Blonde and in 2017 was awarded a Film Victoria funded director’s attachment on Leigh Whannell’s sci-fi thriller, Upgrade, while also creating critically acclaimed short films.
Relic tells the story of Edna (Robyn Nevin) the elderly and widowed matriarch of her family who mysteriously goes missing from her remote home in Victoria. Her daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) then travel to the family home to find her.
Edna returns, but it quickly becomes clear that a sinister presence is now haunting the house and slowly taking control of her.
Take a look at the trailer for Relic, directed and co-written by Natalie Erika James, premiering only on Stan.
In Relic, Natalie utilises the horror elements of the film as a manifestation of dementia, an elevated and otherworldly look at what it’s like to watch a loved one slowly slip away from you.
Natalie used her own family’s life as the inspiration for Relic, with the idea coming to her during a trip she made 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.