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Film / Next of Kin (1982)

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"There is something evil in this house... She should never have come back!"

Next of Kin is a 1982 Australian horror film directed by Tony Williams and featuring a score by Electronic Music legend Klaus Schulze.

The plot revolves around a young woman named Linda Stevens (played by Jackie Kerin) who inherits the ominous but seemingly harmless Montclare retirement home from her late mother. At first, everything seems normal. However, while on a day trip to settle her mother's estate, strange deaths start occurring in the home. Eventually, Linda uncovers her mother's diary which details identical events twenty years earlier. It soon becomes apparent that something evil resides in the house, and that something wants Linda dead.

While not exactly well-known outside its country of origin, it has generally received praise those who have seen it, most notably by Quentin Tarantino, who has compared its atmosphere and pacing to that of The Shining.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Linda gets turned into one in the third act, when she is forced to defend herself from the homicidal Kelvin, armed with a hammer, and the vengeful Rita. During the final confrontation, she picks up a nearby hunting rifle and shoots Kelvin at point-blank range.
  • Action Survivor: Linda is just a regular person forced to endure a terrible ordeal.
  • Big Bad: Rita.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Linda survives but is left utterly broken by her ordeal.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Connie and Dr. Barton are found dead, having been stabbed to death, in a bloody bathtub. A few scenes earlier, the water in a fountain turns red and Linda comes across a dead body.
  • Bookends: The shot near the end of a bloodied and distraught Linda leaning against her ute note  also opens the film.
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  • Boom, Headshot!: Kelvin is defeated with a single shot to the head, fired at point-blank range.
  • Break the Cutie: The entirety of the third act. Not only does Linda have to endure being nearly beaten to death by Kelvin and nearly run over by his van, but she is also forced to confront the terrible secret of Montclare.
  • Car Fu: During the climactic scenes, Kelvin rams his van into the roadside café where Linda has taken shelter and attempts to run her down.
  • Cat Scare: Just before the power goes out, Linda dozes off only to be immediately awoken by a loud noise. Fortunately, it's just the cat.
  • Covers Always Lie: The official poster art makes the film look like a straightforward slasher flick rather than the suspenseful psychological thriller it actually is.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Shortly after all the lights in Montclare go out, the phone mysteriously goes dead while Linda is talking to her boyfriend Barney.
  • Did Not Die That Way: Linda finds suspicious markings on the neck of Mr. Collins indicating that his death was not, in fact, the result of drowning in the bathtub, but rather being murdered by Rita.
  • The Dragon: Kelvin. He acts as the brawns of the two, while Rita acts as the brains.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Accompanies Kelvin and Mrs. Ryan AKA Rita's initial arrival at Montclare, during which a lightning bolt also strikes and knocks down a nearby tree.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Barney is unceremoniously killed off after he goes into the old house to investigate some strange noises.
  • Eye Scream: Linda stabs Rita in the eye through a door peephole using a hat pin.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The final scene has Kelvin's van exploding, taking the roadside café with it.
  • Evil Aunt: Rita, enough said.
  • Gaslighting: Rita plans to drive Linda insane as part of her plan, creating the intimation that her spirit is haunting the old retirement home.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Linda is clearly in an emotional state during and after The Reveal.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: With the exception of Kelvin, most of the deaths occur off-screen or only just.
  • Heroic BSoD: Linda suffers one while taking shelter in the roadside café. She copes by building a little wall out of sugar cubes.
  • I Lied: Linda overhears both Connie and Dr. Barton confess that they had both lied to her about the nature of the suspicious deaths, both past and present.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Barney, Connie, and Dr. Barton all die in this manner.
  • Intimate Healing: Shortly after the second Nightmare Sequence, Barney helps Linda deal with the stress brought on by her ordeal in a loving way.
  • Jump Scare: There are two over the course of the film. The first involves a hand grabbing Linda's face from behind that turns out to just be Barney. The second involves Linda finding a Creepy Doll under her bed during the scene where the power goes out.
  • Knight Templar Parent: During The Reveal, we learn that Linda's mother, along with Dr. Barton, had Rita relocated to a nursing home in order to get her share of the money and thus receive enough funds to take care of her daughter's future needs. This sets in motion a nasty chain of events that eventually leads to Rita's killing spree seen in the film.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Up until The Reveal, it's a bit unclear if there really is something supernatural going on or not.
  • Moment Killer: Linda notices a strange figure watching her during her little frolic with Barney, though he assures her "it's probably just the local ripper."
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Barton acts in a suspiciously aloof fashion and is evasive of the details of Linda's past, including information on her unstable aunt Rita who may possibly be the malevolent presence residing in the house. She is.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Linda experiences two over the course of the film, both hinting at events from her childhood and the possibility of a family curse. In the first, she sees herself as a young girl wandering the deserted hallways of Montclare while carrying a red ball. In the second, she sees a recent drowning victim swimming towards her window and tapping at it.
  • Not Quite Dead: One of the elderly residents of Montclare, Lance, tells Linda that her unstable aunt Rita did not die as initially believed but is in fact still alive. Later, while going through the family's financial records, she notices dubious payments made to Dr. Barton by Rita, further suggesting that her supposedly dead aunt is still alive. However, both Barton and the house caretaker Connie insist that she did die and tell Linda not to go digging into the past.
  • Overcrank: Used to chilling effect when Linda flees from Montclare after stabbing Rita in the eye. Also used in the scene where the Montclare staff recover the body of Mr. Collins after he drowns in the bathtub.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: After Barney is killed, his body is sent tumbling out of a wheelchair and into Linda's arms.
  • The Reveal: The new arrival at Montclare, Mrs. Ryan, is in fact Rita, who is not only still alive but is also the malignant presence alluded to in the diary entries and responsible for the strange deaths. It is furthermore implied that she may also have been responsible for the death of Linda's mother.
  • Revenge: Rita's primary motive. Possibly also a case of Misplaced Retribution, as she attacks her niece for the actions of her mother, intending to frame her for the murders and take over Montclare.
  • Sanity Slippage: All the horrific events eventually take their toll on Linda's mental well-being. The entire third act has her pretty much teetering on the edge of completely losing it as she is forced to defend herself from Kelvin and Rita.
  • Serial Killer: Rita.
  • Slashed Throat: Linda's friend Carol dies this way.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The slightly eerie-sounding Schulze composition "Georg Trakl" plays over Linda reading her mother's seemingly banal diary entries for the first time, suggesting that later readings will not be as pleasant for her. Later, the same piece plays over a rather romantic scene of Linda and Barney playfully frolicking in the woods
  • Toplessness from the Back: Used in the scene where Linda is dressing (with a bit of Sideboob visible as well) and later just before she takes a shower.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happens to the cat living in the old home.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once her little secret is out, Rita has Connie and Dr. Barton eliminated.