Next of Kin
next of kin | tony williams | michael heath | jacki kerin | john jarratt | alex scott | slasher | mystery | australia | new zealand | gerda nicolson | charles mccallum | bernadette gibson | robert ratti | vince deltito | tommy dysart | debra lawrence | kristine marshall
Film: Next of Kin
Director: Tony Williams
Writer: Michael Heath and Tony Williams
Starring: Jacki Kerin, John Jarratt and Alex Scott
This was a film that I never saw before, but I remember hearing podcasts talk about it being a big deal that it was finally released on Blu-ray. It was a one that I had confused with another film that my father owned that had the same title as well. I decided to view it as a part of a Movie Club for a podcast I listen to. The synopsis is in a rest home for the elderly people, a daughter reads her mother’s diary. Soon events that are mentioned in the mother’s diary begin to happen to the daughter.
We kick this off at first with Linda (Jacki Kerin) standing next to her truck. She is disheveled looking as well. It then cuts to her actually driving to this location. She goes inside and it is a diner. It is during this visit that she builds a structure with forks, something we will revisit again, and the owner informs her that her mother used to come in quite a bit.
It is then we learn her mother is deceased. She is trying to get all of her affairs in line finally and is staying at the nursing home her mother used to run. It is here that she starts to read her mother’s diary. She has a good relationship with one of the residents, Lance (Charles McCallum), as well as a woman who has been working here since she was young, Connie (Gerda Nicolson). There is a doctor that comes to help out as well, Dr. Barton (Alex Scott).
As Linda is looking into things, it takes her up to the attic. It is there she finds a window open as it a storm is raging. She finds a ball as well that brings up memories. Connie comes up and tells her to mind the wires that are by the window as the floor is soaked. A van pulls up right as lightening strikes a tree, blocking the path with a large branch. Linda is upset a new resident has been accepted, because she is struggling to keep the place open. She is told they have to as they need the money. The woman is Mrs. Ryan (Bernadette Gibson) along her son, Lance (Charles McCallum).
Odd things start to happen at the nursing home. Events that Linda vaguely remembers as a child are starting to happen again. It is even eerier that the more she reads her mother’s diary, there are even more coincidences. There are also deaths that are happening as well. She seeks solace with her boyfriend, Barney (John Jarratt). What is happening here? It is something supernatural or is one of those around her not who they seem to be.
After viewing this film, I have to saw that it is quite interesting. Australian, the country this is from, is one that I’m quite limited in my viewing of, but the ones I’ve seen have been really good. This film is interesting as it is slasher, but it doesn’t feel like it at first. I will admit that I was a tad bit bored at first and it wasn’t until Linda starts to really investigate the place that it picked up for me. I’m a sucker for research as it is something I tend to do a lot of when I get interested in something. Being able to connect on that level helps me.
This film also has an interesting setting. I’m not sure if it is outdated at the time this film came out, but it felt that way to me. The building and being a nursing home really builds up the suspense that this could be supernatural. The film’s reveal I wasn’t expecting, so that increased it for me. I’m a big fan of the concept of the sins of the family being revisited on the children for sure. It really brings everything full circle which I like.
Going from this concept of coming full circle, there is some really good writing here. There are little minor things we see that really play a big role later in the film, which if you know me, I’m a sucker for that. I don’t want to point them out here to avoid spoiling them for you, but I will say to pay attention to the details.
I’ve already touched on the pacing a bit, but I think the film has problems getting going. It almost seems like they didn’t really know how to start it. The film did meander through the first act and it wasn’t until the start of the second that I was hooked. From there, I was engaged and wanted to know more. I liked the reveal and how the film ended. Going back to the beginning though, I don’t like the first images we are getting, because it does loosen the tension for me a bit. I do think that overall the pacing is pretty solid.
To the acting of the film, I actually thought it was really good. Kerin is someone I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else, but she really was this character for me. She comes off enough timid, but showing some strength that it works. I like the growth of the character as well when she becomes the final girl in the film. Jarratt is an actor that when I saw his name, I had to confirm it was who I thought he was. He plays one of my favorite on-screen villains in Wolf Creek. It was fun to see him as a young actor here and he did a solid job in his role as the boyfriend. I thought the rest of the cast did round out the film. Those at the reveal were really good as I didn’t see the change in their character coming.
There weren’t a lot of effects and one issue I had with the film was that many of the deaths were off-screen. I do think what we get on screen is done well and it is practical. A lot of that was due to the time period it was made, which probably explains why they did things off screen. I thought the blood looked fine. There is an exploding head later in the film that could tell was done with a prop, but I won’t hold it against the film for the attempt. I do think the film is shot very well with some interesting angles. There is time it was disorienting and almost dreamlike.
Now with that said, this is a definitely a slasher I had never seen and glad that I did. This one does fall into the trap that many of them do, it had some issues getting into it, but once the investigation started, I was hooked. I liked some of the concepts this film uses, including the setting, revisiting the sins and things coming full circle. The acting I thought was pretty solid. The building of tension is good from the second act on. I would have liked to see more effects, but the ones we got were fine. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me, but it also doesn’t hurt the film. Overall I’d definitely say this film is above average and would recommend giving it a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10