The Kindred, 2022.
Directed by Jamie Patterson.
Starring April Pearson, Blake Harrison, James Cosmo, Samantha Bond, Steve Oram, Robbie Gee, James Dreyfus, Patrick Bergin, Kirsty Dillon, Tahirah Sharif, and Jimmy Yuill.
A woman suffering from amnesia pieces together the events that led to her father’s suicide, only to be haunted by the ghosts of children that she begins to suspect were murdered by him.
There are plenty of convoluted moments that put the plot of The Kindred into motion, and somehow, much more convoluted plot twists and reveals that are somehow simultaneously predictable and clunkily delivered. Directed by Jamie Patterson (a British filmmaker with frequent output, quality be damned), this is a narrative that is so obsessed with moving from plot point to plot point that the characters and any themes attempting to be addressed are nonexistent. The only thing that matters is the endgame, which is also quite absurd and lame with a killing blow that elicits laughter more than anything. Following that is an unearned bleak ending that thinks it’s tying certain parallels together, but in reality, it doesn’t mean much of anything.
The Kindred is also a melting pot of concepts involving amnesia, ghosts, motherhood, cold cases, family matters, and more that never function as effective or tightly compact (which is strange considering the editing and cinematography are anomalously credited right before the director in the opening credits, although maybe that’s more a shot at the poor writing from Christian J. Hearn). Instead, the story just numbers from one idea to the next, sidelining some characters while introducing others in what is ultimately a reasonably obvious puzzle to piece together.
At the center of this unwieldy mess is Helen Tullet (April Pearson, fine as the amnesiac and manic mother struggling and balancing coming into her new responsibilities while closing the book on the past), first observed under distress rushing through some hallways of a high-rise building, making it outside the front door right as a body crashes down into the concrete beside her, prompting her to stumble backward in shock only to get knocked into a coma by a car. Helen also miraculously gave birth during this coma (something the script states only two other women have done throughout history), despite being unconscious for an entire year. So when was this baby conceived? Are we just meant to assume the incident occurred roughly nine months prior and her husband Greg (Blake Harrison) is just rounding up the numbers? Perhaps the coma extended the average length of a pregnancy.
Whatever the case may be, Greg had to sell their home to eke out a living with baby Heidi while Helen was hospitalized. The family now resides inside Helen’s father’s home, the man who took his life by suicide in the prologue. Naturally, questions of how and why arise, alongside wondering what her father said to induce such a panic. This paves the way for generically visualized ghosts to start causing jump scares, leading to an investigation involving a series of missing children back in the 1980s. There’s also a mysterious man named Frank (James Cosmo) that has been trying to get in touch with Helen’s father and who could potentially have some answers among his own tragic suffering.
To say that The Kindred meanders would be an understatement; some admittedly creepy music from Moritz Schmittat and occasionally unsettling atmosphere as the story continuously barrels into grim territory can’t salvage a story not concerned with the inner workings of its characters (everyone here is a walking cliché, which is frustrating because there’s always potential in exploring how much someone should learn about the past and how that correlates to them currently being a parent). Even those seeking out some mystery will likely be bored since it’s all formulaic and telegraphed. Everyone in front of and behind the camera is giving The Kindred their best, but the script is amateurish and weak, cursing things before they get underway properly.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com