The first time I watched the trailer for KIN, it sparked an old childhood memory, one of my first “aha” moments on the road to a lifetime of sci-fi nerdery. A lonely kid finds an alien space gun. It instantly took me back to an early 80’s cable tv staple, a film called LaserBlast. (Listen, I was young, and cable television was often my babysitter, don’t judge.) It was a full-on terrible B-movie, but the plot? Fantastic. The kind that sparks a kid’s imagination, and fans the flames for a lifetime of looking beyond. I’m so glad that silly low budget movie all those years ago convinced me to go see KIN without knowing too much more.
I am blown away by how much I enjoyed this flick.
Eli, played by Myles Truitt, is an adopted african-american kid in an an otherwise all-white family. His much beloved adoptive Mom, who found him at a shelter, died years ago and left dear old Dad (played by a pretty banged up and authentic looking Dennis Quaid) to raise him all by himself, while Mom and Dad’s older biological son, Jimmy (played by Sing Street’s Jack Reynor) sits in jail.
Dad’s in construction, they live in Detroit, surrounded by decay, abandoned buildings, and a very bleak landscape. They’re so poor, that Eli spends his afternoons scouring abandoned buildings for wiring, copper, and steel to sell at the scrap heap in hopes of buying a new pair of sneakers.
He’s out scrapping one afternoon, post-school suspension for fighting...(“he said something about Mom”) and stumbles upon some dead aliens and a mysterious looking gun. A gun that activates with his touch. Nothing like finding an alien raygun on the same day your older brother gets out of jail. The movie takes off from there.
Jack Reynor portrays Jimmy, the ex-con big brother, with just the right amount of charm and self-hatred. He owes some money, to some very bad men, who apparently helped keep him alive while inside jail. Jimmy has already had a lifetime of bad choices, and you watch him continue almost as if your face was covered but you’re peaking through your fingers. You know he’s going to do the wrong thing, yet you root for him anyway. Quaid’s role as the Dad may be filled with one too many strong moral compass moments for my taste, especially when everyone else in the family has their flaws, however, his performance is still great enough to realize how much you miss seeing him on the big screen.
Kin is many different movies rolled in to you. It’s a buddy film: (two brothers who never got to know each other, bonding!) it’s a road trip film: (two brothers run in to a stripper with a heart of gold, and adventure ensues!) and then it’s a crazy crime spree flick: (two brothers get caught pissing off the wrong bad guys!) James Franco plays the main ‘bad guy’ here, with so much psycho-eye-twinkle, you don’t know whether to laugh or pee your pants. (Maybe both?) To call him menacing would be a gross understatement. He’s never been scarier on film.
Kin takes you for an epic ride, and just when your head stops spinning and you think you’ve got it all figured out, it smacks you dead in the face with a beautiful sci-fi kiss.
I really don’t want to give too much away here, but you guys, I am BEGGING you to see this film if you’re a lover of sci-fi. Put it this way, the family lives on REESE STREET. If you’re a fan of James Cameron, and that name rings a bell, prepare to be delighted.
Hell, even if you HATE sci-fi, it’s still an awesome summer thriller.