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Sundance is always an exciting festival for cinephiles. Where lots of fests put the priority on high-profile, star-studded debuts (and Sundance certainly always makes room for a few of those in their schedule,) the Park City film festival has an earned reputation as the launching ground for indie films and up-and-coming talent that haven’t become household names yet. Natalie Erika James is one of those filmmakers making her feature debut at Sundance 2020, with her haunting and deeply personal new horror drama Relic.
The film follows a family thrown in the punishing darkness of confronting of late-life mortality and the threat of a more ambiguous, possibly otherworldly menace when Edna (Robyn Nevin), an octogenarian with signs of dementia, goes missing and turns up a few days later with no memory of where she’s been. Then there are the unexplained markings on her body, an unsettling habit of whispering to herself, and strange personality changes that could be the product of an aging mind or something even more insidious, all of which baffle and terrify her daughter (Emily Mortimer) and grandaughter (Bella Heathcote), who rush back home to help.
James - Idea - Film - Sprung - Horrors
For James, the idea for the film sprung from the psychological horrors of her experience dealing with her grandmother’s journey with Alzheimer’s, co-written with Christian White, and seemed a perfect match for the dark genre storytelling she’s always loved.
“It felt like the best kind of medium to tell that story in,” James said over the phone in the lead up to her Sundance debut. “I watched a lot of Asian horror growing up, and I was really into to kind of, as a kid, darker fairy tale, and as I got older, kind of darker, gothic, horror literature. So that was already kind of infused in the way that I tell stories.”
“And I think...
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