Nov 6, 2020

At Thanksgiving time, a cautionary tale about families who take family too seriously. In theaters Nov.6.


Grade: B

Director: Joe Marcantonio

Screenplay: Marcantonio

Runtime: 1h 41m

Cast: Tamara Lawrence, Jack Lowden

Rating: R

By: John DeSando

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy

For psychological horror, Kindred gets as close as possible to those caught in relationships against their will either through weakness of spirit or because they have no options. For anyone stuck in a dysfunctional family, this is more harrowing than Get Out and as imprisoning as anything Hitch did with The Birds.

Charlotte (Tamara Lawrence) is trapped in her late husband’s estate with his mother, Margaret (Fiona Shaw), who wants the baby and will do whatever to get it. Thomas (Jack Lowden), a family friend, helps keep Charlotte drugged and helpless, unable to flee as she should. The closed environment, with shots to mirror the confinement, help mitigate scorn from viewers who think she should just walk away.

Writer/director Joe Marcantonio has a firm grip on the tropes of the genre, and by that I mean he indulges little in jump scares and blood, but does rely heavily on the figurative presence of black birds. It’s a mixed bag of tricks handled deftly because Kindred relies on the echoes of the title, the mysterious bonds of family and extended family in a race to protect hegemony even at the cost of a mother.

This Irish film, rendered dark and lush with an ominous estate and creepy characters including a benign-seeming friend, a dorky but sinister doctor, and a crippled dowager not so weak as to stop Charlotte from stealing her only remaining heir, their new baby. Thanksgiving time, when family is paramount, is the right time for this cautionary tale about knowing what you’re marrying into.

At Gateway and other theaters..

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at