Australia hasn't really given the best output to the horror genre. Razorback, Bloodmoon, Howling 3, not exactly the cream of the crop, then there's Next Of Kin. Not too many people out there have heard of this 1982 entry into the slasher genre, but in my opinion they really should have!
The film follows the story of a young woman, Linda who returns home after her mother's death. Now a retirement home, she sets about running the place, but strange things start to happen... she hears ghostly noises in the night, and some of the residents start to die suspiciously in the bath! Then she discovers her Mother's diaries and realises the same things happened to her...just before her death! What is going on, are the deaths just bad accidents, or is someone using Linda to get an age-old revenge?
The film has a slightly slower pace then most, but it works. It helps build up an atmosphere, letting information and events trickle out, before slamming you in the finale! Also the retirement home setting is something different, and while it doesn't provide the viewer with normal slasher antics (no sex, and quite a low bodycount), the house could be the setting for a ghost story, and is very creepy, the look of it also helping add a gothic tinge to the proceedings.
The acting is good, especially from Jacki Kerin (an unknown) as Linda, she manages to show her character becomes more paranoid as the incidents build-up exceptionally well. It also helps that her character's very sensible, and doesn't make the silly decisions teenage girls usually make in slashers (she knows when to get out of the building the killer's in)! Many scenes stand out in the film, the night-time scenes as Linda walks around the building believing someone has broken in (all the long dark corridors and Kerin's wide-eyed stare make them suitably memorable), the wood scenes where the director just about lets us see someone watching in the background, and of course the ending.
The ending is one of the most frantic I've seen in a slasher... compared to the first hour, the sudden change in pace is very unsettling, as are the actual events. The twist is very good; and the villains are very scary... my favourite scene in the film is when Linda finds her self locked in the bathroom, her menacers outside. Also the scenes hold some unbearable tension, especially as Linda sits and waits patiently for the killer to come and get her... the construction of a sugar-cube pyramid has never been so creepy!
In my opinion Next Of Kin is a vastly underrated (or under-seen) entry into the slasher genre, and deserves to be thrust out into the spotlight (cough*DVD*cough). It's stands up as a more adult slasher, replacing gore with a great atmosphere and nudity with scares. Watch It!