Relic director Natalie Erika James and actor Bella Heathcote on personal connections with their film

As Hallowe’en looms, director Natalie Erika James’s feature debut, Relic, is on the horizon, arriving in UK cinemas and online this Friday with its own distinctive style of psychological horror.

It follows three generations of the same family, all women. Grandmother Edna (Robyn Nevin) lives alone in the countryside, but when neighbours become concerned by her behaviour, they contact her daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer). She finds her mother has disappeared and there are signs around the house of her developing dementia, but when Edna returns just as mysteriously, she has no memory of where she’s been. And Kay’s daughter, Sam (Bella Heathcote), sees no cause for concern – until her grandmother’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and hard to understand.

For James, this was something of a personal project, having watched her own grandmother’s decline from dementia and, as she explains to The People’s Movies Freda Cooper in the interview below, writing and making the film proved unexpectedly therapeutic. On a more practical level, she talks about having Jake Gyllenhaal and the Russo brothers as producers and looks forward to her next project, another horror movie but this time based on a piece of Japanese folk horror.

Bella Heathcote’s personal link with the film also comes from a family experience, this time the death of her mother and, in the video below, she remembers moments during filming when she felt genuinely scared. There was one scene in particular where she admits there was “not much acting going on that day.” Unlike her director, however, she doesn’t see herself as a horror fan, despite having appeared in a number of spine-tinglers, and she only recently discovered Hallowe’en after moving from Australia to America.

Relic is released in cinemas and on digital on Friday, 30 October. 

Read our review of the film here.