RELIC is a new horror drama that is as intense as it is unforgettable! Sure, it’s a slow-burner at first, but the ending is pure horror. An extremely strong debut from writer-director Natalie Erika James. Don’t miss this one. Read our full Relic review here!

Relic is a new horror drama that is intense and scary in several unexpected ways. Especially if you’ve ever had anyone with dementia in your life. Scenes might even feel too close for comfort at times, but it really isn’t without reason.

Also, yes, there is quite a lot of symbolism in Relic which makes it both more unforgettable and a lot deeper. However, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that you can also enjoy it as straight-up horror.

In fact, we’ll get into classic body-horror elements at various points throughout the story.

Continue reading our full Relic review below.

A trio of tour de force performances

The main cast of Relic consists of just three actors, who deliver some truly stellar performances. They portray three generations of women in a family.

We have the grandmother, Edna, who is portrayed brutally and direct by Robyn Nevin. You might know Robin Nevin from season one of Top of the Lake (2013). Also, she was Councillor Dillard in the two final movies of The Matrix trilogy.

In the middle – in every way – is Emily Mortimer (Spectral) as Kay. The woman who is both daughter and mother. Kay has to do right by both women in her life and it seems almost impossible, so she has to power through and do what’s right. No matter the cost to herself.

The youngest member of the family is Sam, who is both daughter and granddaughter. She’s portrayed by Bella Heathcote (Pride, Prejudice and Zombies) who manages to walk a tightrope for a long time. On one hand, Sam adores her grandmother and won’t see what her own mother is trying to deal with; The fact that Edna is battling with dementia.

Well, dementia and a very creepy house!

Relic (2020) Horror Review – IFC

The very familiar face of horror

To me, dementia is a very real and familiar face of horror. Losing someone close to you while they’re still right there for you to see and touch. That is actual horror. If you’ve known someone succumb to dementia, then you’ll know the way their eyes glaze over when they slip back out of their ever fewer moments of clarity.

However, for Relic, we do go one step further when the problems of a mind being lost to dementia become very tangible.

Especially the character portrayed by the always brilliant Bella Heathcote has to endure the stuff that nightmares are made of. I mean, she is caught in a very literal nightmare that you might even have had.

Finally, if you think the label “horror drama” means things won’t get down and dirty in the messiest of ways, then you can think again. We’re dealing with pure body horror in both creepy and grotesque ways as well as some ways that are almost beautiful.

I know, it sounds both counterintuitive and weird. Just watch Relic and you should understand.

Watch Relic as soon as you can – if you dare!

As mentioned earlier, Relic is a debut by writer-director Natalie Erika James. Prior to making this debut feature film, Natalie Erika James wrote and directed four short films from 2011 to 2018. She also worked as an assistant to Leigh Whannell when he made his movie Upgrade (2018).

I should also mention that the script was written with Christian White who also co-wrote her short film Creswick from 2017.

I recognize that Relic might not be for everyone. I’ve seen it compared to other brilliant movies such as The Babadook (2014) and Hereditary (2018). I have to add The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) which is a grotesquely underrated movie. Well, not so much underrated as under-viewed, since the film certainly has many fans!

If you’ve enjoyed the three above mentioned movies, then you really mustn’t miss out on Relic. In my book, it definitely holds up to these other masterpieces! Also, Relic has an ending that surprises with its beauty and love. The perfect note to end on after the pure horror you’ve just had to endure!

Relic is out in theaters and on-demand from July 10, 2020. It will be out on DVD & Blu-ray on November 17, 2020, in the US.


In Theaters: July 10, 2020 (USA)
On VOD: July 10, 2020 (USA)
DVD/Blu-ray: November 17, 2020 (USA)
Director: Natalie Erika James
Writer: Natalie Erika James, Christian White
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote


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.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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