After her mother passes away, Linda inherits The Montclare, a nursing home and retirement center. Everything seems fine until residents begin dying under mysterious circumstances. As more people turn up dead, Linda begins investigating the history of Montclare and uncovers a terrifying secret.
I really wasn't sure if reviewing "Next of Kin" was necessary since the movie is apparently 'championed' by Tarantino and is covered on more than a few sites. I figured screw it though; it's a great piece of horror-suspense with some amazing cinematography and I've read some absolutely absurd 'reviews' for the movie. It maybe one of the more well known Australian horror flicks I've covered but I say that is for a good reason, it's a remarkable movie if you can appreciate it for what it is.
Something interesting is that "Next of Kin" and "Alison's Birthday" share similar plot structure - Both movies feature a young woman returning home, after a traumatic childhood event, upon their return weird things occur. Yet even though they share that similarity, they feel like two totally different movies. The big differences being that “Next of Kin” is actually a good movie and demonstrates how competence and talent goes a long way in making a movie succeed. I harped and busted on "Alison's Birthday" for never having anything occur and only having "weird things" happen around our protagonist. Again, that is essentially what goes on with Linda when she returns to her mother's owned and operated nursing home, Montclare. Though "Alison's Birthday" never became engaging, it never did anything to build the mystery - weird things happened and that was that. Here, "Next of Kin" plays with different scenarios to keep up the mystery and the suspense; you don't know if there is a killer on the loose, or if Linda is simply losing her mind. You don't know if you're watching a murder-mystery, a supernatural movie, or the psychological breakdown of a character.
The fact that the movie keeps you questioning as to what the truth of the situation is, is what makes the story work and not seem as tedious as other movies. "Next of Kin" also demonstrates the importance of knowing and understanding your location and how to integrate it into the story/atmosphere in the movie. The Montclare becomes its own character; at times it makes the movie feel claustrophobic, as if the walls are closing in around Linda. Other times, the house almost seems like a malevolent being that's hiding some terrible and dark secrets. Another element to "Next of Kin" is it's amazingly haunting cinematography that not only adds to the movie's atmosphere but really helps the movie stand out.
"Next of Kin" is definitely not for everyone though; the movie is an extremely slow burn. Not much actually occurs in the movie other than the occasional nightmare sequence and the corpse of a senior citizen popping up here and there. Throughout, the movie keeps you guessing with plenty of red herrings: is there a killer, if there is a killer who is the killer, is it all in Linda's head, etc. Unless you’re in it for the long haul of a movie taking its time, and in general having a lack of 'action,' then this is not a movie to get into. If, however, you want to see a 'pure-horror' movie from Australia that has an effective murder-mystery story with a spooky atmosphere and awe inspiring camerawork, then definitely check out "Next of Kin".