The Kindred (2021)
Dir. Jamie Patterson
by Ellis Reed
Here’s a treat for indie horror fans: a supernatural thriller from Jamie Patterson (Fractured, Caught), which mixes some spooky genre staples with a compelling mystery.
Written by Christian J. Hearn, The Kindred stars April Pearson (Fractured, Caught) as Helen: a woman who is hit by a car and put in a coma. She comes round with amnesia, but we know – and she herself can dimly recall – that she’d left her dad’s flat in a very distressed state, moments before he jumped to his death in front of her. We don’t see what triggered these events, and nor can she remember.
Shortly after coming round, she learns that she now has a baby daughter, who was improbably (but not impossibly) born while she was out cold. In a further bombshell, partner Greg (Blake Harrison from Inbetweeners) says he was forced to sell the house in her absence – which means they’ll be living at her father’s flat. Poor Helen, then, has a lot on her plate. She has to recuperate, grieve, and learn to be a mum, all while living at the site of a trauma she barely remembers.
Once the mystery is established, the film starts out like a drama. Helen knows that her father confessed something shocking to her, but she can’t remember what it was, and – being dead – he’s in no position to remind her. She finds a voicemail on his answerphone, which leads her to visit his old friend Frank Menzies (James Cosmo). ‘I need to remember what he told me,’ she says. Spooky business then begins to intrude, with Helen starting to notice (or, in some scenes, not notice) the ghosts of dead children around her.
The spooky business is perfectly serviceable, although, if you’re a horror fan, the tropes will be very familiar. That’s not a bad thing; sometimes, you just want a good honest fright, and I can think of two scenes that put the willies right up me. One is a very effective jump scare, barely signposted beforehand, and the other featured someone knocking at the door. The cold opening, too, is very strong stuff, which should leave you right on edge for the rest of the feature.
However, the movie’s real strength is the mystery, which is very nicely paced and does a good job of holding your interest. Rather than completely bewildering you, The Kindred gives you enough information to make a prediction, then leaves you to see what (if any) surprises are in store. My only minor criticism is that the story would function perfectly well without the use of the ‘Sack Head’ character – ‘You don’t remember? It was that stupid rhyme we used to say to each other, to scare ourselves’ – and the script arguably doesn’t do enough with the idea to justify its inclusion.
Despite that quibble, the script does its job, which is to keep you engaged for the duration of the film and send you away satisfied, if somewhat unsettled. Many horror-mysteries fall at the last hurdle; it’s hard to write something that satisfies both the horror and the mystery, so anticlimax is, perhaps, the Achilles heel of the whole subgenre. However, for my money, The Kindred does a great job of wrapping things up. The performances are good throughout, and Harrison deserves a special mention for being completely unrecognisable as Neil from Inbetweeners.
I’ve seen three of Patterson’s films now, and this is probably the most conventional; it lacks the non-linear trickery of Fractured (also written by Hearn) and the unresolved sci-fi weirdness of Caught. However, as I said: sometimes you just want a good honest fright. The Kindred is a perfectly respectable, nicely-made horror that runs at a good pace for ninety minutes, keeps you on your toes with an interesting script, and sticks the landing quite nicely. Add it to your watchlist and give it a go on your next movie night.