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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Next of Kin (1982)


Starring: Jackie Kerin and John Jarratt
Distributor: Second Sight Films
RRP: £19.99

5 028836 040965

Certificate: 15
Release Date: 25 March 2019

When her mother dies, Linda Stevens inherits a large house called Montclare, which was turned into a retirement home years before by her mother and her mother’s sister. Now she is in charge of elderly residents and staff, and there is no money. Furthermore, something strange is going on. Someone is moving around the house at night, distant voices are heard and taps are being left on. At first she suspects it is one of the residents, like an old war veteran who is starting to lose his faculties. But she hears a ball being bounced, and then a resident tries to take a bath only to find a dead body under the water. History is beginning to repeat itself, and Linda’s own vivid nightmares are a portent of things to come, as a secret at Montclare is unlocked...

This is an Australian film which was aided by the New Zealand Film Commission. It was directed by Tony Williams and released in 1982. The film was praised by Quentin Tarantino in the documentary Not Quite Hollywood, and has been likened to Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. However, the only similarities are the young child in the corridor sequences with the red ball, and the seemingly receding passageways. For a film in which very little of any significance happens for long periods of time, Next of Kin does have the underlying power to keep you interested. I like the ghostly drowning man outside the window; it’s spooky but far too brief, and has little justification.

There are clichés, too, like suddenly pulling back the closed shower curtail to reveal no one is there. Also, the figure standing outside a building – or a distance away – watching, is overused these days (films such as John Carpenter’s Halloween from 1978 and Poltergeist started the trend), but still manages to heighten the tension. In these films you should never trust any newcomers: in this case, the cat and the new elderly arrival at the home. The ghostly goings on are proved to be somewhat superfluous, because the climactic scene involves real people and real conflict.

Nevertheless, the loneliness of the key character rings your sympathy bells. She readily hitches-up casually with a man from her past for temporary comfort, but is essentially a lone wolf as she reads her mother’s diaries and faces-up to the truth. In this you admire her pluckiness, too. There are some nice moments featuring the old soldier, who stands out in the rain because he’s curious, steps into the fountain because he has found a piece of clothing, and particularly when Linda recruits him to help her take the washing down when it begins to rain and gets in a right old mess (which is both funny and sad). Later, they are folding a large sheet between them, Linda in a gazebo and the old man outside, when it hammers down with rain. He doesn’t react, so she pulls on the sheet which causes him to stumble into the gazebo and under cover.

Extras include: two commentaries (one with the director and producer, the other with member of the cast); Return to Montclare (a location visit); deleted scenes and trailers; two Tony Williams short films; bizarrely, the full ballroom dancing footage (when only a brief sequence is shown on a TV in the film); and extended interviews from Not Quite Hollywood.


Ty Power

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