THE KINDRED movie poster | ©2022 Vertical Entertainment

THE KINDRED movie poster | ©2022 Vertical Entertainment

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: April Pearson, Blake Harrison, James Cosmo, Samantha Bond, Steve Oram, Robbie Gee, Jimmy Yuill, James Dreyfus, Patrick Bergin, Scarlet Annandale
Writer: Christian J. Hearn
Director: Jamie Patterson
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Release Date: January 7, 2022

THE KINDRED is not to be confused with 2020’s KINDRED, a mix-up made more likely since both are low-budget British horror movies. (It’s also not to be confused with the 1987 TV series THE KINDRED, which was about vampires.)

The current THE KINDRED opens with a panicked young woman, Helen Tullet (April Pearson), fleeing a tall building. Once outside, she is almost struck by a falling body, and then actually hit by a taxi.

Waking up in the hospital, Helen learns from her husband Greg (Blake Harrison) that she’s been in a coma for a year – and had their baby, Heidi (Scarlet Annandale). Greg had to sell their house to pay for care for Helen and Heidi. Now the family has to live in the apartment of Helen’s late father Robert (Jimmy Yuill), who committed suicide just after he and Helen argued. Helen remembers their relationship as close, and can’t recall what the argument was about.

While Helen’s physical condition begins to improve – she has to learn to walk again after being bed-bound for so long – her mental and emotional state is more fragile. In addition to the holes in her memory, Helen begins seeing the ghosts of dead children around the apartment. At the same time, she uncovers evidence of some heinous crimes.

Writer Christian J. Hearn and director Jamie Patterson decide that we should sometimes see the ghosts even when Helen does not. This would be a great way to indicate quickly that something supernatural is indeed occurring, except this doesn’t necessarily seem to be what the filmmakers intend.

Instead, from the treatment of Helen’s character and the overall tone, it appears that THE KINDRED is one of those “are there really ghosts or is this a mental breakdown” piece. It’s not that this ambiguity cannot be pulled off, but in this instance, it never adds up to much either way.

Where THE KINDRED is most interesting is in its exploration of Helen as a woman who feels she lacks natural maternal instincts. When the film focuses on this, we find both realism and originality. But this gets swamped by everything else happening around it.

While the thriller elements in THE KINDRED are very strong, providing the bones of a good narrative, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Helen’s hysteria makes her a bit tough to take as our protagonist. She’s verbally abusive to a police detective who is treating her with courtesy. Moreover, Helen leaves in a huff, insisting she won’t be believed, when all she had to say, truthfully, is, “This is what I’ve uncovered while looking into my father’s suicide …” It’s too much for our patience and our credulity.

Nonetheless, Pearson delivers a strong performance, as does Harrison as her increasingly alarmed spouse. Samantha Bond projects pragmatism as a former detective, and James Cosmo is properly avuncular as an old friend of the family.

THE KINDRED may work for those who want an English thriller that wraps up in under two hours. It delivers more in terms of plot than drama.

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