The debut feature by the writing/directing duo of brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker, Kin is marketed as a sci-fi action film about a kid, Eli, who discovers an advanced energy gun. Along with his criminal brother, Jimmy, and a friendly stripper with a heart of gold, Milly, they're hunted by both a criminal gang who are out to get Jimmy, as well as a bunch of space-looking blokes who have arrived to retrieve their gun.
Along with the boasting about how this film was produced by some of the people behind Stranger Things and Arrival, it appears that Kin would be somewhere within those areas. However, that is not the case. This movie does not deliver what it promised in the advertisements, and is actually an indie roadtrip drama. Any sci-fi related element, such as the gun and the mysterious space people that are searching for it, is only in there for about fifteen minutes.
This would all be fine if this movie at least had a competent script to back it up, but the script we have here feels very dated, stuck somewhere in the 80's or 90's. It repeats the exact same story tropes and clichés that have been done to death a thousand times before, and doesn't bring anything new to the table. Familiar tropes include the people that are on the run for something terrible that's happened at the beginning, and one person is hiding the truth from someone else so it's only going to be a matter of time before the other finds out, resulting in a huge falling out between them only to come back together again in the end. There are family problems and bullies, the gang brings another person on their trip who inevitably gets into trouble along the way, and so on. These common plot devices have all been done before, and done so much better in countless other films. What Kin really needed was a vastly updated script to support it.
What makes the film at least watchable is the performances involved. The two main actors, Myles Truitt and Jack Reynor, are incredible, giving very believable portrayals of two brothers who don't know a lot about each other but learn to bond over the course of the movie. Even though her character was superfluous in the grand scheme of things, Zoë Kravitz is also incredible as the stripper that is searching for a way out and forms a strong bond with the younger brother. These three main performers are so good that you wish they were in a better movie, plus both Dennis Quaid and James Franco give solid (if corny) support. The film is shot brilliantly thanks to cinematographer Larkin Seiple, the CGI is great for a low budget film, and it has a solid musical score by Mogwai.
However, all these positives aren't enough to make this movie good, since it's let down by an incredibly dated story full of some of the most tired clichés, without even attempting to add something new or fresh to spice things up. This feels much more like a film you'd catch on Netflix, or perhaps something that should go straight-to-DVD/Blu-ray, rather than something that might earn a theatrical release There's a major WTF moment at the end that's pure sequel-bait, but why would anyone want a sequel to what is basically a road trip drama? In the end, Kin is nothing more than a middle of the road rental.
KIN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JONATHAN BAKER, JOSH BAKER / SCREENPLAY: DANIEL CASEY / STARRING: MYLES TRUITT, JACK REYNOR, ZOE KRAVITZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VOD), 20TH NOVEMBER (DVD/BLU-RAY)