by Steve Kirkham
Blu ray. Single Disc. Severin Films
I recall Aussie horror Next of Kin being advertised in the trades back when I worked in a VHS rental store but somehow it passed me by when it came to viewing it so its great to finally catch up with this on Severin’s Blu ray release.
Linda (a very good Jacki Kerin- whose other credits appear to be mainly tv work) inherits a large run down nursing home – Montclere Retirement Home – after her Mum dies. Whilst she feels unwelcome after returning home after so many years she soon slips into caring for the elderly residents. Reading her mothers diaries she starts to have nightmares and flashbacks to her time as a child in the home as she tries to find out just how her mother passed away. She begins to be paranoid thinking someone is watching her and seeks solace with her former boyfriend Barney (played by John Jarratt best known these days as knife wielding psycho from Wolf Creek). The more she reads and the more she digs into the past the more odd things happen – echoing the diary entries. What evil lurks within the walls of the house…
Is this a lost Aussie gem ripe for rediscovery – probably not but it is gripping enough to keep you watching and has bags of atmosphere and flashes of imagery that are really striking. Much of your enjoyment will depend on whether you have the patience to stick with this slow burn, creepy chiller which does eventually pay off with its bloody finale. More a psychological thriller until it’s literally explosive ending, Kerin is great at capturing her gradual breakdown as the steadicam camera creeps through the hallways, however the pacing may well be too lethargic for modern audiences. One element that adds greatly is the score by former Tangerine Dream member Klaus Schulze.
As is usually the case with Severin you get a swathe of extras:
You get a fairly interesting intro from Kier La Janisse which is filmed outside the house used as the location for Montclere; extended interviews taken from footage shot for Not Quite Hollywood (2008 – which if you haven’t seen this documentary on Australian cinema go catch it as it is well worth your time. It is currently on Amazon Prime in the UK). Most of this is with director Tony Williams and is a very interesting talk about how the film was shot. You also get a brief bit with John Jarratt; Return to Montclere: Location Revisit – this kind of extra is nice to see as it matches shots from the film with the locations as they are now but it is way too long and could easily been just as effective with some judicious editing.
Deleted Scenes isn’t really cuts from the film at all but rather a collection of screens showing contact sheets of scenes that were shot, weren’t used and are currently not extant. This was slightly odd. Also curious but I guess included for completists sake, Before the Night is Out: Ballroom Footage 1979, is the complete footage of the ballroom sequence seen on the tv during the film. No audio except from the music score. Pretty pointless.
The original theatrical trailer included here just seems to be a jumbled mass of clips from the film with Schulze’s music overlaid. No voiceover except a short one at the end. Perhaps they had no idea how to sell it. The same trailer is then repeated but listed as UK VHS trailer – the difference being this is VHS quality, in 4×3 with some generated text at the end selling the video on VHS, Beta and the short lived format V2000. All for the princely sum of £30. Another trailer is from Germany – which looks more like a hard sell preview complete with German voiceover (shame there are no English subs).
An addenda: When I first posted this review someone pointed out to me that this was from 1982 (not 1989 as I had first put in the title). The 1989 Next of Kin is a Patrick Swayze movie! Interestingly, whoever did the sleeve for this release made the same mistake as it says 1989 on the back.