Jonathan and Josh Baker, the sibling filmmakers behind Kin, have more than earned an A for effort. If they had followed an anthology structure or, better yet, taken their story as the basis for a limited series, there’s certainly room to imagine what might have been. So it’s frustrating to watch as the film pinballs between tones, genres and even cinematic styles while leaving almost no impression by the end of it all. In fact, as I left the theater I had the disconcerting notion that I had no idea what the point was supposed to be. In most cases, this doesn’t apply, since even the films I end up not liking at all tend to support their own weight as creative concepts if not as finished products. With Kin, the disparate elements just smash up against one another until the story reaches a bizarre anticlimax of narrative dead ends, with each of the threads we’ve been following since the beginning being smoothed over while not being resolved in any way.
In the first, we see the boy find a laser gun in a warehouse. It’s among the debris of what looks like the aftermath of some kind of shootout, the bodies of high-tech space-suited soldiers lying everywhere. The second sees the boy’s older brother being released from a six-year stint in prison for grand theft and coming home to live with little bro and their father (Dennis Quaid, who utters the line “If I raised you rough, it’s ’cause the world is a rough place” for what I swear is the fifth movie in a row). Big bro owes $60,000 to James Franco, who does his best to be Heath Ledger Joker creepy but comes off more like Mickey Rooney playing a tough street kid in Little Lord Fauntleroy. After that it’s a blur of plot and motivation, as we see two more Warehouse Soldiers (maybe aliens, maybe from the future?) and a strip club dancer getting mixed up with the brothers as they end up on the run. To say why they’re on the run would be spoiling a lot, but rest assured, it’s pretty stupid and, script-wise, contrived beyond belief.
Individually, none of this is necessarily bad. It’s the mislaid patchwork of the thing that makes it more annoying than anything else. I’d follow the two Space Alien Future Soldiers (or whatever they are — just kidding, it’s revealed who they are, and that answer is also incredibly dumb) as they try to track down their missing gun. I’d follow the two brothers on a road movie, as they learn to be a family with low-rent gangsters on their tail. I’d follow the kid with the laser gun, figuring out how to use it and learning life lessons along the way (or whatever). But none of this comments upon or amplifies anything else around it. It’s just a bunch of noise.
But I’ll give you this, Baker brothers: You made a movie wherein the first ten minutes, by any reasonable logic, could never have let me guess what those final ten minutes would look like. So I’m putting you on the spectrum with Sorry to Bother You and Hereditary. If any other review makes that comparison, I owe you $60,000 and a space gun.