'Relic' Director Natalie Erika James' Next Project Is A Folk Horror Movie About Motherhood

The critical acclaim for Relic signaled the arrival of a promising new horror director with Natalie Erika James, whose debut feature is receiving all kinds of raves for its depiction of the horrors of dementia. And she's already got several intriguing follow-up projects in the works, all of which will deal with the subgenre of personal horror, with some shades of horror classics like Rosemary's Baby and The Wicker Man.

In an interview with Collider's The Witching Hour, James teased her next three projects, all of which deal in the subgenre of personal horror.

"I don't know how else to write a film because I just feel like you spend, you know, minimum two years of your life working on something; you have to care about it that much, surely," James said. "It's more like personal questions or personal fears, and for me, filmmaking is a great way to just ask those big philosophical questions in your life."

The premise of personal horror is becoming more popular among arthouse horror directors nowadays, like Hereditary and Midsommar director Ari Aster, who worked through personal issues of family and relationships, respectively, in his two acclaimed hit films. James has fielded comparisons to Aster, and even changed aspects of Relic due to similarities to the filmmaker's examination of grief in Hereditary. Her next project, Drum Wave, may draw some comparisons to Midsommar too, as it is a folk horror film that deals with sacrifice and maybe a couple of hallucinogens.

"I mean, obviously folklore has commonalities throughout so you can't avoid those," James said. "There's a massive hallucinogenic element in the script that we wrote and when we saw that we were like, 'Aw, f***.' But, you know, maybe audiences will forgive us for the repetition."

But aside from similarities to Midsommar, there's more intriguing elements that make Drum Wave of interest. There are comparisons to Rosemary's Baby and The Wicker Man that James makes, as well as a deep dive into the fear of motherhood:

"The one that's furthest along is the folklore that I mentioned earlier called Drum Wave, which is set in Japan. It's got a very like, Rosemary's BabyWicker Man vibe to it. It's about a woman who's kind of deeply afraid of motherhood on many levels, and who marries into a family on this remote island to worship a fertility goddess. So when she thwarts their ritual sacrifice, she has to escape being kind of offered up as like a surrogate sacrifice. And also she kind of inexplicably falls pregnant, so it's dealing with a lot of body horror."

In an interview with /Film, James also teased the elements of "folk horror" of this film set in Japan, which she described as "along the lines of The Wicker Man or Rosemary's Baby, and is very much focused on motherhood, fertility and control over one's body."

It's all very tantalizing stuff! Especially the idea of finally seeing a horror film about the terrors of motherhood and pregnancy from the lens of a woman. With all the rave reviews for Relic, including from /Film, it's clear that there are more exciting films to come from James.