With the accessibility to cameras and editing equipment today, it’s easy for young filmmakers to make shorts and shop those projects around in order to break into Hollywood. Such was the origin story of Damien Chazelle, director of Whiplash and La La Land and the youngest to win an Academy Award for directing. Brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker seem to be seeking to break big with an adaptation of their successful short film “Bag Man.”
Kin is a sci-fi film starring a young kid name Elijah (Myles Truitt) who discovers an alien weapon in an abandoned building. Two aliens come down to retrieve the weapon and Elijah is forced to go on the run with his felon brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) who is also being chased by debt-seeking gangsters (led by James Franco’s kingpin).
The film is produced by Shawn Levy, who has recently had a hot streak from producing Stranger Things; the cultural impact of the Netflix series has caused a wave of 80s nostalgia films to be greenlit. Kin certainly has an 80s feel, and not always in a good way. 80s films were enjoyed for their bold creativity, and that certainly is copied in Kin, but the corny dialogue should have been left in the decade of influence. Audiences of today demand more realism in characters’ interactions than before, evidenced by the successes of The Dark Knight, Logan, Dunkirk, and Get Out, all films that have adapted their specific genre with gritty realism.
That’s not to say that films today need to always be dark or logically plausible; Kin knew when to have fun, such as with the original use of the alien technology. The casting had its strong points too, such as an incredible but brief turn by Dennis Quaid as Elijah and Jimmy’s father.
One can sense that the Baker brothers are still finding their directing footing, and many scenes do not land with the intention that they were scripted. Nevertheless, it’s incredibly refreshing to see an original story not adapted or spun-off of anything come to the big screen, and that alone makes Kin a worth a watch.