[31 Days Of Horror ’20] Review: Next Of Kin (1982)

Review Day 12: Next Of Kin (1982)

Australian cinema has a long history of making horror films, one just need look into Ozploitation films to see that. There are those films that really made the horror genre in Australia stand out from the likes of Wake In Fright (1971) an outback psychological nightmare to Wolf Creek (2005) a truly uncompromising slasher. Many Australian horror films have taken native fears and turned them into waking nightmares, with influences from many filmmakers and countries but some how still managing to form their own unique Australian feel. Next Of Kin (1982) is a unique Australian horror film, taking the giallo approach, with hints of Hitchcock for a ride into insanity.

The film sees Linda (Jacki Kerin) a young woman inherit the estate of Montclare, a retirement home that has been in her family for generations, previously run by her now late mother. Linda struggles with her new life at Montclare, while coming to terms with her childhood there and the relationship she had with her mother. She reconnects with her old boyfriend Barney (John Jarratt, yes Mick Taylor from Wolf Creek), and forms a close bond with long time resident Lance (Charles McCallum). The retirement home is helped run by Connie (Gerda Nicolson) and Dr. Barton (Alex Scott), who welcome her in. Linda is unsure of whether she wants to sell Montclare or stay on, asking that they not take on any more residents, but Connie insists they take in a new resident Mrs Ryan (Bernadette Gibson) because they need the money to stay float. Strange things start to affect Linda as she begins reading her mothers diary, and soon what her mother had described starts happening to Linda. Is she going mad or is there something sinister happening at Montclare?

Next Of Kin is a fascinating film, truly unlike any other Australian horror film, thanks in part to an excellent script from Michael Heath and director Tony Williams. Staying away from the America horror tropes from that time, this treads into mystery territory with strong links to the giallo films of the 70s and Lucio Fulci. It is shot in such a way that the audience can feel Linda’s own psychological break down, with some excellent and memorable shots. It is a very striking film, with a soundtrack that is meant to make the viewer feel uneasy. As the film progresses, the downward spiral of Linda is reflected with each element on screen, with a third act that is utterly shocking and brutal at points.

Jacki Kerin carries the film so wonderfully, Linda is a strong character, taking matters into her own hands and not relenting. Her performance is quite layered and Linda is a likable character, this is established quite well and flows as the film progresses. The rest of the cast are quite good, with John Jarratt being the opposite of his most famous role and Gerda Nicolson making her mark as Connie. Next Of Kin is an excellent film, a worthy film in Australia’s horror genre but a worthy film for Australian cinema also. The film certainly made its mark, with its influences for modern filmmakers being very much apparent and it is easy to see why. This is a highly recommended film, it shows that Australian cinema is more than the terrors of the outback or likeable larrikins.


Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea


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