I looked forward to seeing The Cassidy Kids because I'd enjoyed Dear Pillow, the previous feature film from local filmmakers Jacob Vaughan and Bryan Poyser. The Cassidy Kids, which Vaughan directed and Poyser produced, was quite a different film. For one thing, this movie had an actual budget: it was in color and its cast included nationally known character actors. The Cassidy Kids looked slicker and more commercial than I expected. The film also has a much more complicated setup than Dear Pillow, with several storylines entwining that occur in different places and times.
The title of The Cassidy Kids was misleading: many people at SXSW seemed to think it might be a kids' movie, or that it would be primarily about children. While the movie does flash back to childhood scenes from the main characters' lives, it is the adults in the present time who are the focus of the story. As children, the "Cassidy Kids" were involved in the resolution of a mysterious murder case, which inspired a TV show (called The Cassidy Kids, natch) in which adorable child actors portrayed the kids and solved much less serious mysteries. Decades later, the original group is reunited when the TV show is released on DVD, and they realize that not everything in the mystery they "solved" might have been quite as straightforward as it once appeared.
The Cassidy Kids reminded me a lot of John Sayles' 1995 film Lone Star. Both are ostensibly mystery/suspense films: decades-old situations surface for the characters to resolve. However, the films are not about these mysteries as much as they are about the relationships beneath them. In The Cassidy Kids, Rebecca (Anne Ramsay) encounters her childhood friend Dennis (Kadeem Hardison) after decades of not speaking. She's also trying to care for her sick father, pack and move her childhood home, and deal with other childhood acquaintances she'd rather not see again. The resolution of the mystery plot may seem pat and predictable; however, the suspense for me was not in the unsolved aspects of the mystery, but in the relationships these characters might develop or break by the end of the movie.