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  • Nate Adams

Review: Hostage thriller 'Kindred' owns the familiar

Courtesy of IFC Films


Working as a modern day reboot of “Rosemary’s Baby” but with its own unique spin, hostage thriller “Kindred” finds strength in the familiar. Director and co-writer Joe Marcentanio pays homage to the subgenre of horror movies surrounding pregnant women and builds a serviceable canvas for lead star Tamara Lawrance, who gives the film some flavor, to truly shine. 

Charlotte (Lawrance) had big plans and aspirations to move from Britain to Australia with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Edward Holcroft) trying to flee the clutches of his needlessly obsessed mother, Margaret (Fiona Shaw). But after a terrible accident leaves her isolated and alone, Charlotte is told she’s pregnant (despite being on birth control) something she never planned on doing because her childhood was far from perfect. One thing leads to another and Charlotte winds up in the care of Ben’s crazy mother and suspicious brother Thomas (Jack Lowden). 

Considering Charlotte is a black woman, the situation takes on a new meaning when she’s gaslit to stick around in what’s her worst nightmare come to life. In these instances it’s hard not to make the Jordan Peele comparison. Ever since the Oscar winning filmmaker planted the framework for social thrillers around people of color, we’ve seen more films akin to that formula manifest. That’s wonderful for representation, but it sets a high bar that most can’t live up too. 

On the other hand, Lawrence is a beast unto herself, finding the layers and emotions in a character enslaved by her white captors. Likewise for Shaw as Margaret who is the perfect foil to stand in her way, contorting the balance of power and delivering one juicy monologue after the other. She chews up scenery like yesterday’s breakfast with Lawrence harboring enough tenacity to sell the film’s thin premise. But even the best performances can’t hide a third act that hinders on a twist that ultimately never comes and by the time credits start to roll, it feels incomplete. 

Grade: B- 

KINDRED is now available on digital and playing in select theaters 


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