by Naomi Roper
After a rough year, Sadie (Caitlin Stasey) goes to stay with her sister Chloe (Thora Birch) and her teen daughter Nicole (Sasha Frolova). Nicole is thrilled to see her – Sadie is the “Fun Auntie” (unlike boring old mum) who Nicole has hero-worshipped ever since she saved her life when she was little. So when Sadie starts to act in ways that send up major red flags (dressing like Nicole because they’re (title alert!) kindred spirits, hanging out at teen parties when she’s a decade too old for it) Nicole just thinks she’s being the coolest Aunt ever. But Sadie has very different plans for Nicole.
Back in the 1990s, Hollywood for a brief spell pumped out a variety of wonderfully trashy psycho sexual dramas. They all had the same basic premise, someone (usually an extremely attractive woman) enters the life of some poor soul (usually a clueless white man but not always) and proceeds to systematically demolish said poor sap’s life just because they can. They were often lurid and provided a number of actresses with some truly iconic roles. Fatal Attraction (good) and Basic Instinct (better) are probably the best-known examples but some personal favourites include Consenting Adults (with Kevin Spacey (urgh) ruining Kevin Kline’s life), Single White Female and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle with the wondrous Rebecca DeMornay as the nanny from hell.
The genre sadly fell out of favour which is why I was so completely bowled over by Kindred Spirits. Director Lucky McKee and writer Chris Sivertson have resurrected the psycho-sexual thriller and bloody marvellous it is too. Kindred Spirits is pure escapist fun featuring a star-making turn from Australian actress Caitlin Stasey who is a force of nature as Sadie.
Sometimes you just want to watch something that is pure entertainment. The audience is well ahead of the characters here but it honestly doesn’t matter. We know shortly after meeting Sadie that she’s madder than a bucket of frogs and that Nicole is very much barking up the wrong tree with her hero worship. Stasey is so much fun as Sadie that even when she starts to do very bad things indeed I was still proudly waving my #TeamSadie flag. This genre always has you rooting for the morally reprehensible ending if the antagonist is enough fun and Sadie is a delight. Frolova is great and has real screen presence as a realistically grumpy teen slowly discovering that her Aunt is batshit crazy. It’s also really nice to see Thora Birch on screen again after a slightly fallow period. Although my god Hollywood is brutal – she’s gone from being the goth, manic pixie dream girl in Ghost World to mildly frumpy middle-aged mum dating a very middle-aged guy despite the fact that she is only 37.
My only slight critique is that the film ends rather abruptly and lacks a final showdown between the sisters which I would very much have liked to see. Slick, soapy and pure, escapist fun Kindred Spirits is an engaging thriller featuring superb acting from its trio of leading ladies.
Kindred Spirits premiered in the UK at Frightfest and doesn’t yet appear to have a UK release date.