Screamfest 2019: McKee’s ‘Kindred Spirits’ Delivers Slow-Burn Psychological Thriller [Review]
Going into a movie as blindly as possible is my preferred way of viewing films. All I knew about the Friday night Screamfest screening of Kindred Spirits is that it’s directed by Lucky McKee, commonly known for his movies May and one of my favorites, All Cheerleaders Die. Kindred Spirits is about a young single mother, Chloe (Thora Birch), trying to raise her daughter Nicole (Sasha Frolova) to the best of her abilities. The characters’ relationships begin to strain when Aunt Sadie (Caitlin Stasey) decides to come back home and stay with Chloe and Nicole.
The pacing and gradual unveiling of the story places this one in the zip code of slow-burn psychological horror. Unlike McKee’s May, gore and violence are kept to the minimum. There are a handful of cringe-worthy scenes, but overall the main motif is to mess with your brain rather than induce the grinding of teeth.
The story in its entirety feels more like a Lifetime drama rather than a horror/thriller, though there is still a lot to be enjoyed here. While the story is a simple one and nothing we haven’t seen before, it moves forward cohesively. There are no plot holes and everything progresses linearly.
As good as the buildup and expeditious storytelling are, McKee fails to close with a bang. The finale is extremely rushed and it feels like an entire 15 minutes is cut off and leads into a spoon-fed close.
The story revolves around three main characters and their gradual ascension into madness. McKee was able to breathe life into these well thought out and crafted characters through amazing casting. The leading ladies walk the shoes of these characters effortlessly. Caitlin Stasey as Sadie steals the show. Her character is demented and at times even comical. She is the perfect vessel for this crazy character with odd behavior and psychotic nature.
Kindred Spirits possesses a lot of potential for a fantastic psychological thriller. This is without a doubt a step up for McKee from his recent work. While the story moves forward slowly and swiftly, it fails to close in the same manner. The abrupt ending results in a lackluster closing that left me discontent. From well-constructed characters to a story with no plot holes, there is still a lot to be appreciated here. And regardless of a few blunders, this is definitely a title worth checking out.
Kindred Spirits opens in select theaters on October 24, 2019.