The Kid Detective – Review

The Kid Detective There are plenty of movies about bright child stars struggling to adapt with obscurity or notoriety in childhood. They usually roll out plenty of tropes around alcoholism, dingy apartments, failing careers and disappointed parents. The Kid Detective does all of this, too, but in a way that will keep you veering wildly from laughter to shock and horror right up until the very last minutes.

Writer / director Evan Morgan’s film centres around Abe Applebaum (played brilliantly by Adam Brody), a former child detective who cracked cases in a small, sleepy Canadian town. Missing time capsules and stolen school funds came naturally to him as a whip-smart youngster – as the opening montage shows – but one case has left him haunted and broken. Unable to find his missing classmate, who seemingly vanished on her way home from school, Abe has spiralled into self-pitying disarray; obsessed by the one big case he couldn’t conclude.

Offered a chance to redeem himself, by solving the murder of a quiet high school student, Abe battles against his own demons in order to ingratiate himself back into favour in his hometown.

To a certain extent, this movie is done a disservice by its title. I was initially skeptical of something that sounded like a 70s Disney B-movie. But it’s actually a film that – despite all the sleuthing hijinks – focuses on its characters and offers up a genuinely interesting narrative.

It also pushes the boundaries of dark humour, pivoting effortlessly from slapstick to seedy thriller. It executes both strands really, really well – the scenes where Abe is hiding in a child’s closet are particularly funny. And, although there are a couple of movie cliches along the way (the whisky swilling, washed up detective being the most obvious one), they actually don’t feel too contrived.

The film keeps you guessing right until the very end – something that’s kind of important for a detective movie. There are lots of clues, misdirections and teases throughout. Morgan packs a lot into the film’s 100 minute run time.

Adam Brody is truly excellent in the central role of Abe. His characterisation allows the film to explore themes of self-perception and doubt. He takes up cases like missing kittens and straying spouses because he knows he can solve them. You can see the impact that such early success – and failure – has done to him; he is a character you can feel natural compassion for.

The Kid Detective He has an easy rapport with Sophie Nelisse, who plays Caroline – the girlfriend of the murdered high school student who has hired him to help her find out what happened. She is all doe-eyed innocence, the perfect antithesis to his hard-eyed cynicism. They are both damaged in their own way; forging a unique bond as they strive to find the truth.

Avoiding spoilers, The Kid Detective really does pull the rug out from under you in the last twenty minutes or so. Yes, there have been dark moments throughout but nothing quite compares to the “big reveal”. All of the light humour and fun detective quirks disappear almost instantly as the film unravels its sinister, shocking final act.

This is definitely one of those indie cinema treats that suddenly appears on a streaming platform and has everyone talking.

With a very clever script and some excellent central performances, this is one of the most interesting and unusual crime thrillers I have seen in a long time. There are so many layers to this film – it’s like a classic noir meets tragicomedy by way of small-town drama. It feels like one of these films that is bound to become something of a sleeper hit because every facet of it is so well executed.

The Kid Detective is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Mary Munoz
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