Exclusive: Relic director talks about the "important" emotional ending

Ian Sandwell
·3-min read
Photo credit: IFC Midnight
Photo credit: IFC Midnight

From Digital Spy

Relic ending spoilers follow.

It's a special kind of horror movie that can terrify you and move you to tears, but that's exactly what Relic does.

Directed by Natalie Erika James (who also co-wrote with Christian White), the fresh spin on a haunted house movie focuses on Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) who return to their family home when matriarch Edna (Robyn Nevin) vanishes.

When Edna mysteriously returns, Kay and Sam start to realise that she's not the same person as before. But is it a resulting of her increasing dementia or has Edna been taken over by an insidious presence in the house?

The ending isn't what any horror fan would expect from Relic, so we decided to sit down with Natalie Erika James to talk about the surprising and moving climax. Needless to say, massive spoilers ahead.

Photo credit: Jackson Finter
Photo credit: Jackson Finter

Watch Relic on Amazon Prime Video

It's revealed that the presence in the house isn't separate to Edna, it is Edna and a physical manifestation of her dementia. During Relic's terrifying final third, Kay and Sam find themselves on the run from what Edna is transforming into.

However, this isn't a movie that ends with the 'evil' being destroyed. It ends with Kay helping Edna to remove the last bits of her flesh to reveal her final form, before Kay and Sam comfort Edna until she falls asleep and dies.

It's an emotional and unexpected ending, even if it also delivers a classic horror beat as Sam discovers a similar mark on Kay's neck that she saw on Edna.

For James, she admitted it was a risk, but it was "so important to what the film is saying".

Photo credit: IFC Midnight
Photo credit: IFC Midnight

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"If you think about what it would have been like if we'd gone the traditional route where they defeat a monster and they run away, the whole point is the importance of connection in the face of that darkness," she told Digital Spy.

"So I think for the family to come together again, it was almost the whole point of making the film in a way. From a performance perspective, what we just did was tie it to real life as much as you could.

"I think Emily did the most phenomenal job of conveying that [and] there's a real reverence in her performance at the end. We talked about it like it was almost like a funeral rite, not too dissimilar to washing the body of a loved one after they passed.

"I feel like it has that gravitas and that's all performance and the sense of inevitability. For me, I think it's a really optimistic ending, but I think most people who disagree. There's a lot of love there."

Photo credit: IFC Midnight
Photo credit: IFC Midnight

James also revealed that originally, The Other – what Edna transforms into – was separate to her, like a "doppelgänger entity".

"[However] we thought it made more sense and it was true to Alzheimer's in real life for it to be this growing parasitic thing inside of her," she added.

Relic is out now in UK cinemas and also available to rent on Amazon Prime Video and other VOD platforms.

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