In 1987, there was a Rod Steiger mad science movie called The Kindred – Amanda Pays turns into a big fish in one scene. There’s a TV series based on a vampire role-playing game called Kindred The Embraced – which feels like two factions were pushing for different titles then both got their way. And, last year, a creepy British psycho posho picture with Fiona Shaw was called Kindred, which must be an annoyance to the makers of this year’s ghost story-mystery The Kindred since they’re bound to get mixed up in internet searches. I know what it’s like to get married to a title while nurturing a project, sometimes for years, but in this case they should have let it go and come up with something else. It’s a semi-spoiler for the mystery, apart from other considerations … though not as much as The Changeling was in 1980. How many times have you heard the word ‘kindred’ used in speech, anyway?
Helen Tullet (April Pearson, from Dark Beacon) staggers out of a London tower block in shock – even before her father (Jimmy Yuill) commits suicide by jumping off his balcony – and is then knocked down by a car. She wakes up a year later, having given birth to a baby girl while in a coma, and her husband Greg (Blake Harrison) tells her that what with all the trouble he’s had to sell their house and the only place they can move into is the flat she’s inherited from her father, which comes with all sorts of bad associations and (it seems) actual creepy child ghosts. She can’t remember what she and her dad were rowing about before he killed himself and a psychic (Steve Oram, almost reprising his role from A Dark Song) gives her a list of names which turn out to belong to children who went missing in the village from which she and her father moved when she was four. Meanwhile, she reconnects with her father’s odd friend Frank (James Cosmo) and tries to get answers from a handy priest (Patrick Bergin). The haunting escalates (some of the apparitions are genuinely alarming and there’s one great jump scare), a retired cop (Samantha Bond) who is still agonised by the unsolved murder cases gets involved, and Helen gets some nasty surprises about the nature of bogey man ‘Sackhead’.
Directed by Jamie Patterson and written by Christian J. Hearn (who previously collaborated on Fractured, also with April Pearson), this is a small-scale genre picture – with whispery performances, a fairly gloomy look, a few too many passages of rote exposition, some neat misdirection, a couple of shocks, and a general air of crushing gloom shared with quite a few British horror films of the last few years. You get a sense from the outset that solving the puzzle isn’t going to make anyone happy.