A nasty and violent take on the real vs. adoptive parents issue, “The Tie That Binds” is simply dull for most of its running time before turning downright nauseating. From three of the same producers as “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and presumably partly inspired by that creepy hit, new effort just sits there generating disgust rather than suspense, and it’s impossible to guess which audience the filmmakers imagined would be attracted to it. Quick exit to vid pasture will follow token theatrical dates.
Tyro screenwriter Michael Auerbach and first-time helmer Wesley Strick plod through a tale that has outlaw team of John and Leann Netherwood (Keith Carradine and Dary Hannah) forced to flee a crime scene, leaving their young daughter, Janie (Julia Devin), behind. Taken in by professional couple Russell and Dana Clifton (Vincent Spano and Moira Kelly) with an eye to eventual adoption, little Janie slowly begins to adapt to her new surroundings, but signals her traumatic past through such odd behavior as cutting her palms and wandering into traffic.
Naturally, her white trash parents aren’t about to let their sprig become a yuppie kid, so they set out, not just to recapture their daughter, but to murder everyone who had anything to do with the separation, including a cop and an adoption official. Although the Cliftons eventually realize that the bad folks are moving in on them, they find that they can run but cannot hide, and it all ends in a preposterous show-down. Resolution is predictable, and arrived at in the most morally offensive manner possible.
The plotting is bad enough, but it is exacerbated by director Strick, who tries on his new directorial clothes for size by indulging in a parade of gratuitous crane and overhead shots that only call attention to themselves in their pointlessness.
Characters are all one-dimensional, with no effort made to give them any layers beyond the most primal family drives to stick together. Thesps should move to put this embarrassment behind them as quickly as possible.
Tech efforts are all pro, to no avail.