As The Kindred (not to be confused with the 2020 or 1987 films of the same name) opens Helen (April Pearson, Dark Beacon, Sideshow) is frantically running out of a high rise. She makes it outside only for something to come hurting down in front of her. Horrified, she steps back and is struck by a car.
A year later she awakens from a coma and we find out it was her father Robert’s (Jimmy Yuill, Local Hero, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)’s body that crashed to the pavement in front of her. And that while she was in the coma she gave birth to a daughter, Heidi, who her husband Greg (Blake Harrison, Agatha and the Truth of Murder, The Inbetweeners).
Writer Christian J. Hearn (The Brighton Mob) and director Jamie Patterson (Caught, Tracks) start The Kindred out as a drama, focusing on Helen’s struggles to rehabilitate her body and acclimatize herself to her new role as a mother. But she’s haunted by a blank spot in her memory, she can’t remember the events immediately before she fled down the hall. And she can’t seem to move on until she finds the answer.
It also doesn’t help that financial issues have forced them to move into her father’s old unit. With everything else that she’s facing, the constant reminder of what happened that night is the last thing she needs. And when Heidi starts developing unexplained bruises and Helen has visions of ghostly children it seems like she may be cracking under that stress and developing postpartum issues.
But, as she digs into her father’s past she finds that there may be another explanation. One linked to a series of unsolved child murders decades before.
With so many facets to its plot, The Kindred is a somewhat cluttered and at times confusing film. Part family drama as Helen tries to adjust to being a mother to a daughter she’s had no chance to bond with, part mystery, part cold case police thriller, and part ghost story. All of these plot threads give Patterson and Hearn plenty of options when it comes to keeping the viewer off balance.
Just as you think you have something figured out, another possible explanation crops up. The Kindred’s script does a good job of controlling these developments, never letting things feel too chaotic. It does however rely on coincidence to make things seem to fall into place a little too conveniently at times.
Thankfully there are several excellent supporting performances in The Kindred to help take the mind off of that all too-common shortfall. Steve Oram (Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break) plays a psychic investigator not entirely different from the one he played in A Dark Song. James Cosmo (Monochrome, Skylines) as Frank, an old friend of Robert’s and Patrick Bergin (Shark Week, Sleeping With the Enemy) as his priest also contribute strong performances.
I do wish we’d seen a bit more of Samantha Bond (Hunted, Die Another Day) as former Detective Burrows. She was the one who investigated the crimes when they occurred at a considerable cost to herself. She gives a performance that will surprise anyone who only knows her as Moneypenny from the Bond films. Similarly, present-day Detective Shepherd (Robbie Gee, Underworld, Paddington 2) could have used a bit more screen time as well.
Despite its flaws and a couple of overly obvious developments, The Kindred is an above-average hybrid thriller with several good twists, creepy moments, and an ending that will stick with you.
The Kindred was released in the UK on December 27th and will be released on January 7th in the US by Vertical Entertainment.