When Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance) loses her boyfriend in a tragic accident shortly after finding out that she’s pregnant, she’s taken in by his wealthy mother (Fiona Shaw) and stepbrother, Thomas (Jack Lowden), to stay in their secluded manor. Charlotte is grief-stricken and unsure that she even wants to have the child, but the pair are adamant that they’ll look after her, reassuring her that they only have her and the child’s health at heart. But as the days go on, Charlotte is plagued by disturbing dreams and becomes suspicious of the family’s true intentions.
Manipulation and mistrust lie at the heart of director and co-writer Joe Marcantonio’s Kindred, which shares a lot in common with Rosemary’s Baby and the Jennifer Lange-fronted Hush. Though, at first, the family do genuinely seem to care about Charlotte by taking her in, offering to fix her phone, and bringing in their private doctor to examine her, red flags start to crop up soon after. She’s informed that the bank has foreclosed on her home, and she questions why she hasn’t been able to visit a hospital or why her phone is taking so long to be repaired. Of course, the family have explanations for all of this, but the reasons aren’t enough to shift Charlotte’s doubts.
Kindred’s horror is unconventional in nature, rooted in the viewer being suspended in a limbo where it’s impossible to know who to believe. It’s through this mounting uncertainty that the filmmaker finds the space needed to inject subtext concerning mental health and classism. But as events progress, this subtlety is unceremoniously peeled away and replaced by unintentionally hilarious melodrama and predictable twists that undermine everything that came before.
Events continue to go off the rails at a ludicrous pace as the script discards its thoughtful approach to the film’s premise. It’s as if the writers weren’t sure how to further escalate the tension and simply went with the most derivative conclusion.
Kindred is by no means the next Rosemary’s Baby, but its opening half uses its horror tropes to touch upon noteworthy subjects. Disastrously, though, this is quickly abandoned in favour of quick thrills that generate little payoff.
Kindred is released nationwide on 25th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for Kindred here: