From Beyond the Grave – Rediscovering ‘Next of Kin’ (Australia/New Zealand 1982 – 89 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - July 09, 2014
From Beyond the Grave – Rediscovering ‘Next of Kin’ (Australia/New Zealand 1982 – 89 mins)

An eerie slow-burner from Down Under; ‘Next of Kin’ is a wonderfully creepy thriller, filled with thunderstorms and mysterious goings-on. While it’s not your average 80’s horror flick, and also rather slow paced, it does deserve a wider audience for its interesting story line and memorable finale.

After she inherits the Montclare Retirement Home from her deceased mother, Linda Stevens appears to be the target of an unknown stalker. Also, some of the elderly residents are going missing and later turning up dead. The answers to these mysterious happenings appear to come from her mother’s diary that Linda stumbles upon, which reveals both past secrets and unwanted relatives.

Unfairly labelled as a slasher movie, ‘Next of Kin’ came and went, and is now mostly forgotten. It’s a shame because the movie has so much going for it. In her only cinematic role to date; Jacki Kerin is very convincing as the frightened Linda, and I’m surprised she didn’t go on to greater things. Kerin’s only other outings have been in television, most notably the long running cop drama ‘Blue Heelers’ (’94-2005). Aussie favourite John Jarratt plays Linda’s old flame; Barney. Jarratt first became known from his laddish turn in Peter Weir’s seminal mystery ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (’75), and the early Mel Gibson drama ‘Summer City’ (’77). More recently, Jarratt has gone on to cult status, playing the tourist-hating Mick Taylor in the controversial 2005 horror flick ‘Wolf Creek’, and its 2013 follow-up.

New Zealand director Tony Williams won the best director award at the prostigious Sitges festival in 1982, and it’s a shame he hasn’t done anything since. The film is filled with memorable moments, including a tense bathroom scene where one unsuspecting character steps onto the face of a recently drowned resident, as he gets into the bath. There is also a great ‘eye through a keyhole’ stabbing towards the end, and the finale itself is very impressive, with a terrific slo-mo climax in a late-night diner.

Atmosphere plays the best role here though, with some top notch cinematography making the most of its creepy old house setting. Taps run on their own and garden fountains spurt blood, and there’s a lot of rain! A bit of a lost classic and deserving of a revival; ‘Next of Kin’ is a neat gothic mystery where the clue is in the title!

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