KINDRED SPIRITS is the latest film from director Lucky McKee (May, The Woman). written by Chris Sivertson, about a single mother who’s sister, Sadie, comes home after a prolonged absence and settles in with her and her daughter, only for it to be revealed that she may have sinister intentions. The film stars Thora Birch (Ghost World), Caitlin Stasey (All Cheerleaders Die), Macon Blair (Green Room), Sasha Frolova (Red Sparrow), and Shonagh Smith (I Am Mackenzie) and it had its World Premiere at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival June 16th, 2019.
The film opens up with an almost tragedy as we see two young girls running through the woods in slow motion with music that is reminiscent of a fairytale. After one of the girls almost gets seriously injured, we quickly shoot back to the present where we meet Nicole (Sasha Frolova) as she makes her through the same wooded area we saw earlier. Nicole and her mom Chloe (Thora Birch) have a strained relationship with Nicole exhibiting an unsavory temper. This leads her to punch a girl in school who was about to talk shit, and just when you feel like the mother/daughter relationship is at a boiling point, Chloe’s sister arrives. We quickly learn that Sadie (Caitlin Stasey) has been out of their lives for quite some time and has returned to come back to live with her sister in their late parent’s house. Nicole is beside herself with joy as both Nicole and Sadie have always gotten along well, with Sadie saying that they are “kindred spirits”. However, soon after moving back in with her sister, a side of Sadie begins to show through which indicate that Sadie may have sinister motives for returning back home.
I still have yet to see McKee’s first film May (I know, something that I plan on remedying soon, I promise) but his other film The Woman completely fucked me up. With that said, KINDRED SPIRITS isn’t to the same extent as The Woman in regards to intensity but it still packs a nasty little punch in terms of uneasiness and dread. This is what I love about McKee’s films, he’s able to showcase a suburban lifestyle that looks picturesque on the outside but on the inside it’s filled with rot. For the most part, Chloe and Nicole lead a privileged life and once Sadie moves in she gets a taste of that as well. Though there are underlying issues with Sadie’s mental well-being, it’s how she looks and behaves on the outside that makes it believable to some that she could never do the terrible things she capable of.
It was interesting to me watching the film to feel like there was a fantasy element throughout. The music was the main key to that but some of the shots had a somewhat ethereal filter that lent itself to a feeling of make-believe. There is actually a scene where Nicole and Sadie find costumes and go on an adventure which makes me wonder if McKee wanted there to be a false sense of innocence towards Sadie. My only gripe with this was that the music didn’t feel like the right choice for the film. It seemed adolescent in nature, and maybe that was how it was supposed to be, to be uneasy and child-like. For me, though, I found it didn’t work and that it actually distracted me during the film. But what did work for me was the dynamic between the three leads: Thora Birch (who I was glad to see), Caitlin Stasey (who was great at flipping personalities on a dime) and Sasha Frolova (who really embraced the troubled teenager vibe). I will say I wished we got a little more screen time from Macon Blair, but that could just be me being selfish cause I think he’s a phenomenal actor.
Lastly, I wish that the ending was fleshed out a bit more as I felt like it was rushed when it could have been expanded on. Even with the few issues I had with the film, as a whole it was still an effective and unsettling picture. The film surprisingly doesn’t incorporate a lot of gore, which is shocking if you’ve seen The Woman, but when it does appear it’s rather inventive and entirely squeamish. If there is one thing that this film has taught me it’s that I’m a fan of McKee’s work and I need to immediately check out May. KINDRED SPIRITS may not be his most intense film but it’ll still leave you with a feeling of discomfort.