Natalie Erika James makes her feature film debut with Relic, a horror film that, like many films of the genre, offer more if you scratch beneath the surface. When Edna (Robyn Nevin), the demented and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daugter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) travel to their family home to try and find her. What they find upon arrival is a sinister presence haunting the house and slowly taking control of Edna.

Obvious comparisons can be drawn with Ari Aster's Hereditary but then again it definitely deserves to be judged on its own merit because Relic certainly does enough to stray away from being labelled an exact replica. Natalie Erika James possesses the ability to create a tense and haunting atmosphere that lingers over proceedings, making the impending sense of dread predictable but shocking nonetheless. 

The fact you can see where the film is going doesn't take away from the film as a whole, Relic being a predictable yet impactful depiction of how dementia inhabits and tears away at the people we love. It's not just the people either, as the family home deteriorates too, James ensuring it becomes a character as much as the female trio that take centre stage.

Coming to the performances, Relic features three very diiferent but equally strong performances from Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote. Each of them bring different qualities to a generational horror that culminates in a beautifully fitting and muted manner.

So, consider me impressed by Natalie Erika James' first feature film and her effective approach to covering such a condition as dementia. There's plenty of things that go bump in the night and darkened corners in every room but it's the real heart of the narrative that make Relic such a haunting piece of work.

Verdict: ★★★★ 


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