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Kin to a Gun

But one character in Kin exhibits any moral compass. That goes for everyone, even bit parts. A gas station clerk won’t let customers use the bathroom. A judgmental hotel clerk looks down on her mixed race patrons. An indifferent cop won’t take his feet off a countertop to help anyone.

And the main characters? There’s Jimmy (Jack Reynor), fresh out of prison, skulls tattooed on his knuckles, and into a local kingpin for $60k. Milly (Zoe Kravitz) makes her living as a stripper, allowing Jimmy’s underage brother to hang with the rest of the girls as they do shots. The less said for James Franco’s Taylor, that druglord Jimmy owes money to, the better.

Kin wants Eli (Myles Truitt) as grounding. That doesn’t work. He’s Jimmy’s adopted brother, suspended from school and thieving local buildings in post-recession Detroit at only 14-years old. In one crumbling warehouse, Eli finds a futuristic gun – more a cannon – that he plays with.

Kin’s summary is that of “Troubled high school teen finds solutions in guns.” That’s tone deaf

Everything hinges on that gun, with a comatose sense of morality. Kin’s summary is that of “Troubled high school teen finds solutions in guns.” That’s tone deaf. The sci-fi setting isn’t nourishing anything; rather, it’s to cover the embedded reality. Eli takes on nasty strip club owners, gets into firefights, and blows up bales of hay while those around him encourage the behavior.

Maybe this plays better in a country where gun violence among teens isn’t pervasive. That’s not the case in America, where Kin’s situation is all the more perverse. Truitt is a fine performer; he handles the role with more discretion than the script provides. In the end, he mows down bad guys (evaporates them, actually) while taking cover as if practiced from a videogame. Kin loves that cool factor, anything to make a series of abhorrent behaviors elevate Eli in status to an immature audience.

Note this is PG-13. While Kin avoids bloodshed and language, the thematic issues raise the question of the rating system’s intent and purpose. Here’s a film drenched in errant conduct, with the age limit right at Eli’s own. Eli stands in his bedroom, poses with the weapon, and threatens a mirror, imitating a bully. Whether the gun is a piece of fiction or not doesn’t matter. Intent does. Kin never addresses any of this, nor does it provide consequences. Guns solve problems.

A twist ending attempts to course correct. Things in Kin, it turns out, were not as direct as they seem. Rather than demean violence, those closing minutes only exacerbate the issue. What’s to come is worse still. Kin was only a dry run, it turns out. That’s terrifying.

Video (4K UHD)

When Kin begins, the artificial grain structure makes itself known. This is digital video, but the clarity is removed for the sake of grit. It’s thick grain too, as if rendered at a lower resolution than this 2K source, or similar to an older master were this a catalog title. That asks a lot of Lionsgate’s encode. It’s a give-and-take relationship, giving Kin visual roughness to match the story while simultaneously covering up finer detail.

With the digital filter, facial definition sags. Textural qualities slip. What remains is fine, resolved and natural. Exteriors of Detroit’s lesser areas show extensive grime, and the rotting concrete isn’t low on crumbling debris.

Pure on this Dolby Vision-encoded disc is contrast. Whatever sense of murkiness the style invokes whisks away when handling brightness. Highlights dazzle. The main prop gun features a hologram-like sight, intense colors sprouting whenever aiming the weapon. Inside the barrel, LED lights stick out. Other contrast stretches things to a limit, near blooming multiple times, but holds to retain detail. Black levels don’t stretch things as far (mostly a shade or two away from pure black) yet keep density close.

Primarily taking place at night, color still dominates. Cooler hues pleasingly layer each scene. Accurate flesh tones stand between a variety of color graded locations. The strip club uses hearty pink neon and blue mood lights, for example. In each case, saturation breaks out.

Video (Blu-ray)

The Blu-ray’s lesser encoding has an issue handling Kin’s grain. Artifacting in shadows presents a distraction at times. Some chroma noise slips in against brighter colors as well.

Otherwise, Kin looks acceptable for the format. Contrast retains richness and saturation stays consistent. There’s plentiful detail to absorb, in close or from afar. Black levels present a key problem though, robbing Kin of dimension.


Offering DTS:X on both formats, this is a sharp, observant audio mix. As laser beams streak across the frame in the opening moments, superb LFE support gives each shot weight. This is a mix high on range, willing to dig in to accentuate action to give it a bigger feel than the budget is capable of. Vehicle engines generate low-end force as do larger weapons.

Surrounds play their part too, creating ambient debris and tracking bullets during a climactic shoot-out. High-grade precision keeps imaging wide. Smaller moments succeed too. Eli listens from his bedroom as an argument downstairs swivels in position based on camera placement. General panning from vehicles deliver flawless transitions.


Although a box office dud, Kin’s bonuses go well beyond expectations. A commentary from first time feature directors Josh and Johnathan Baker seems small compared to what’s still to come. Thicker than Water runs nine minutes longer than the movie itself, a documentary charting the production from its beginnings as a short film and through the process. It’s split into eight parts, missing nothing. The original short titled Bag Man is included in full afterward, also offering commentary.

Ten deleted scenes last 12-minutes with a nice introduction from the editor. The final piece is of great interest, bringing together producers and directors (including Kevin Smith) to discuss the method of creating bonus features. It’s totally unique, and a great conversation that runs just shy of an hour. Plus, as Kevin Smith says, the extras are often better than the movie. So is the case for Kin.

  • Video (4K UHD)
  • Video (Blu-ray)
  • Audio
  • Extras


Kin’s world is full of misery, and sees a high school age teen as the lone savior as long as he has a gun at his side – to add misery.

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The following six Kin screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 27 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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