“Kid-Thing”: A Backwoods Kid Meets a Voice Down a Well

Kid-Thing Your tolerance for the new feature from Austin-based brothers Nathan and David Zellner may depend on whether you've acquired a taste for their previous work. This is genuinely independent moviemaking, forged from inner resourcefulness and sibling reinforcement. Like the Coens, the Zellners can seem smug and self-enchanted, but also singularly strange and poetically funny. Their Kid-Thing teeters delicately between lively youthful oddity and obscurely mannered quirk. Somewhere in backwoods Texas, a 10-year-old tomboy (Sydney Aguirre) is all alone and raising hell — making crank calls, exploding fruit with firecrackers, paint-balling a dead cow, wadding up canned dough and chucking it at passing cars. Although perhaps ultimately unfulfilling, this mischief seems infinitely preferable to the drudgery of watching her aloof dumbass goat-farmer dad (Nathan Zellner) and uncle, or whoever that other guy is (David Zellner), take too long scratching lottery tickets and cracking each other up with incoherent redneck mutterings. But the girl's exploits take an unexpected turn one day when an old woman (Susan Tyrrell) calls out to her from the bottom of an abandoned well. They develop a covert, contentious relationship, with mutual accusations of being the devil just for starters. The Zellners' sometimes strenuously fable-like narrative is spellbinding, if also slight. It has a perfect ending, but stalls out a few times before getting there.

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