SIBLINGS (David Weaver). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (April 15). For venues and times, see Movies, page 99. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The wicked stepmother bestrides fairy tales like a colossus: loss of the mother and fear of her replacement is a terror that still resonates, even now when divorce is common and families expand accordingly.
The wicked stepmother in Siblings is evil indeed, matched only by her equally horrible husband. This is a black comedy, but for the first 20 minutes the "comedy" part is missing. There's nothing funny about a father ( Nicholas Campbell ) who's a sexual predator or a mother ( Sonja Smits ) who says of her own daughter, "She should have been put down years ago. She's a half-wit."
But the monsters are dispatched with alacrity, and that's where the fun begins. The kids, led by 17-year-old Joe ( Alex Campbell ), don't care that they're gone, but someone's got a guilty conscience and the children stand to inherit a lot of cash with the parents out of the way. The story is reminiscent of 1994's Shallow Grave, but instead of stabbing each other in the back, the kids stick together with hilarious deadpan desperation.
The only false note is Sarah Polley 's turn as the town weird girl; the sole purpose of the character seems to be to give Polley a role. Cinematographer David Greene captures the bleak feel of Canadian winters perfectly, and seeing so many big-name Canadian actors supporting the kids is kind of cool. Just don't watch Siblings with your family at Thanksgiving or any other big holiday. It might give you ideas.