Some films exist outside of their influences as more than the sum of any parts, rare and intoxicating. The 1982 Australian horror Next of Kin is one such film, taking inspiration from the then-current slasher boom, Argento’s work and Italian Gothics, contemporary art films and more stretching back through classic ghost stories and murder mysteries to cinema’s earliest days. It takes all of this and mixes it into a film that is enthralling, visually stunning and emotionally involving. It twists and turns in interesting ways that feel fresh nearly 40 years later and mark it out as something special.
The film begins with Linda returning to the home called Montclare she has inherited from her late mother. The house is a huge, beautiful old building that has operated for many years as a retirement home. Initially, Linda is happy to be back despite some financial woes but is soon unnerved by recurring memories from her youth, unexplained activity (like taps running seemingly by themselves) and the overwhelming feeling someone is watching her. When she decides to investigate what could be a sequence of mysterious deaths going back two decades, Linda finds herself under threat from a malevolent presence.
Next of Kin is a truly wonderful film, spending time to build character and atmosphere before unleashing a brutal and exciting final half hour that pays off every expectation. The pacing is deliberate, the acting excellent, the score incredible and the writing from Williams and Michael Heath subtle and confident.
The picture here is nearly perfect, sharp and clear and full of colour. Director Tony Williams and cinematographer Gary Hansen collaborated on a film that is achingly beautiful and it is well served by this release. To further support it, there are a raft of extras starting with a commentary from Williams and producer Tim White. There’s another commentary featuring some of the cast from the film and Mark Hartley, who directed the Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood. There are excerpts from the doc about the film, and a featurette that revisits some of the film’s locations. Two shorts by Williams are included, as well as deleted scenes, trailers and alternate credits. All complement the main film very well as a complete package and are valuable because Next of Kin demands repeat visits to enjoy and appreciate what is a truly singular piece of art and a hugely entertaining horror film that can stand proudly against any of the greats of the genre.
This is an outstanding release for a one-of-a-kind film that should absolutely be on your shopping list.
NEXT OF KIN (1982) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TONY WILLIAMS / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL HEATH, TONY WILLIAMS / STARRING: JACKI KERIN, JOHN JARRATT, ALEX SCOTT, GERDA NICOLSON / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 25TH