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Film Review: Tin Can (2020)

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As the world faces a deadly plague, a front-lines parasitologist is imprisoned in a life-suspension chamber. To escape she must destroy the last of her kind.


How would you react if you woke up inside a metallic pod, barely bigger than your body, tubes running in and out of your face, and at a loss of reasons as to why you’re there? Find out how a scientist working on a breaking discovery did in “Tin Can” which made its North American premiere at Fantasia’s International Film Festival.

A destructive fungal infection is wreaking havoc through Canada (and the rest of the world), forcing a slow, painful, and gruesome death to its victims. Head parasitologist Fret (Anna Hopkins) has finally made a breakthrough discovery to contain and potentially eliminate the infection. Before her efforts can be rewarded, she is struck by a fire extinguisher in blindsided fashion. When she finally awakes, she is intubated and trapped against her will inside a human-sized “tin can”. Once she painfully tears the apparatus from her face, she realizes that other people around her, outside of her pod, are also in the same predicament. She must now find out who put her in there, why, but more importantly, how she’ll get out.

You obviously need to get into the mindset of an enclosed environment (for the most part) as to the setting of the visuals. Not just “Night of the Living Dead” stuck in a house-enclosed; more like closet-sized enclosed. It obviously has some vibes emanating from it that will remind you of 2010’s “Buried”, starring Ryan Reynolds, where he, too, was trapped inside of a claustrophobia-inducing box. Writer/director Seth A. Smith does, however, succeed in varying his camera shots and angles so as to entertain the audience’s eyes. From shots outside of the said tin can, to extreme close-ups of various body parts on the actress’ body as she converses with other contained victims; the perspective keeps varying as we remain in the same confined setting. While Smith has mystery reign over the entire plot during the first half of the movie, he makes sure to force the audience to grimace, at times. The scene where Fret tediously removes the apparatus from her mouth and nose is well detailed in terms of visual and audio cues that may force some to gag, reminiscing Neo’s Matrix awakening from 1999’s “The Matrix” (minus all the overflowing pink goo). Smith continues to force his viewers to wince as he succeeds in sharing victims’ pain in torturous scenes with striking visuals without actually revealing anything. His attention to detail is also quite appealing and appreciated, for example, as we notice armpit hair has become long and thick on Fret, revealing that she’s been potentially trapped for weeks. The fact that the movie is separated into titled chapters also makes things ominously interesting.

Anna Hopkins delivers a genuinely exasperating and exhausting performance throughout her tenure inside her metallic pod as well as a credible one in her flashbacks that help us unravel the story. In addition to her great work onscreen, the make-up department does a stellar job at visually grossing out the audience with the fungal infection literally taking over poor souls’ bodies.

Sadly enough, the second half of the movie takes quite a bizarre turn. While the pace does seem to shift, the script barely has any dialogue as the entire atmosphere definitely goes all-out on its science-fiction premise. Despite a few shocking scenes, we can’t help but scratch our heads at the bizarre characters, outfits and turn of events. Without spoiling anything, the latter portion of the feature, even while being quite revealing with its flashbacks, remains odd, confusing, and a bit of a letdown. The script seems to rock back and forth between personal issues and a much bigger, darker picture, but doesn’t find a way to harmonize it all together.

This Canadian horror/sci-fi project is an interesting experiment in a world where we, ourselves, have been plagued by a serious bacterial threat. With its visually impressive ups and plot-related downs, Seth A. Smith’s “Tin Can” remains a film to be seen, nonetheless, receiving a passing grade of 6/10.

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