Preview: Kid-Thing

Fri 31 Aug 2012

AND Digital Reporter Paul Atkinson previews our upcoming screening of Kid-Thing…

Arriving on these shores after a succession of successful screenings, including a glowing report from the Sundance Film Festival, David Zellner’s Kid-Thing will leave you speechless, in a good way. Following the exploits of Annie, a troubled ten year old with a penchant for wanton destruction, the film takes a mysterious turn after the introduction of Esther, a frail woman trapped down an abandoned well.

Sydney Aguirre’s performance as Annie is startlingly believable, thus truly unlikeable. From theft to vandalism and insect cruelty, Annie is a troubled young girl, not least resulting from the neglectful and immature guidance given by her two male guardians who spend more time sleeping and squabbling than parenting. We spend several days travelling the remote areas around Annie’s home, as she struggles to find anything worth doing.

Containing a minimal amount of dialogue, the film has a strangely quiet tone, matching the isolation of its lead character. Music is also kept to a minimum, apart from one stand out live performance, leaving the myriad of physical sounds forceful and clear, keeping your attention on Annie’s, often violent, actions. Lingering shots, further add to the distinct directorial tone of the film, giving it a slow sense of progression towards an uncertain climax.

The copious scenes of isolation, landscapes cluttered with rubbish and discarded objects enforce Annie’s own sense of loneliness while her continual violent and disruptive behaviour seems to come out of a need to find pleasure in her otherwise barren life. She is a child who has made friends with isolation and tainted by emotional neglect, Annie fails to find joy in anything she does, constantly pushing boundaries to get a reaction.

The second part of Kid-Thing focuses on Annie’s apprehensions about the well, and who is at the bottom. Her emotions change continually towards Esther, from fear to curiosity and anger. However, Annie’s interactions with Esther confirm she is aware of her unsavoury actions and is overwhelmingly concerned about the potential repercussions, fearing the voice in the well may be the devil trying to trick her. Her paranoia suggests a sense of repentance and this is further examined as the film draws to an end. After all, the devil does make work for idle hands.

Kid-Thing continues the long tradition of films about adolescent desire for adventure, yet offers little in the way of humour you’d find in films such as Garth Jennings’s Son of Rambo or the fantasy of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, but it does present a troubling scenario where a child’s cries for help go unheard, leading to unforeseen and challenging consequences.

Kid-Thing screens tomorrow, Sat 01 Sep at 16:10. Book your tickets here.

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