Fantasia Film Festival Review: Tin Can (2021)

Fearued image: Anna Hopkins as Fret in Tin Can. (Courtesy of Fantasia.)

Directed by Seth A. Smith. Written by Seth A. Smith and Darcy Spidle. Starring Anna Hopkins, Michael Ironside, Kristin Langille. Runtime 1h 44 min. Tin Can had its North American Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on Saturday, August 7.

In Tin Can, a new viral fungal infection called the Coral is sweeping across Eastern Canada. As we’re learning about the virus, our main character Fret (Anna Hopkins), a parasitologist learning more about Coral, is brutally kidnapped and put into a life-suspension chamber, essentially the titular Tin Can.

Written by Seth A. Smith (who also directs and scores the film) and Darcy Spidle, this claustrophobic piece is likely more experimental than most audiences might be accustomed to. Even for me, I admired the filmmaking skill on display here more than I enjoyed the film.

The structure works, as we learn information the same time as our main character Fret, or at least as to what’s happening outside her can. Smith’s horror is at its most effective when we’re hearing visceral screams and just imagining what’s happening. It’s impressive what he can do with visuals and lighting, too, where one of the film’s most chilling moments is simply an old man smiling at us through his grated window, prophesizing.

A still from Tin Can… Smile. (Courtesy of Fantasia.)

I liked imagining more than seeing, as the tin can felt safer than the outer world, and the set design in there is very neat. One shot of the camera revealing what’s going on in a neighboring pod is expertly done and will stick with me for awhile. Unfortunately, I found many of the explanations vague, as the writers seem to understand their own world so well they don’t explain it enough, as the film loses a step in the second half.

All that said, Tin Can truly crawled under my skin and it feels like it’s still there. I’ll be keeping tabs on Seth A. Smith’s work because of the unsettling world he creates. It takes a lot for a film to truly sit with me like that, so this film is at least a mild success.

Score: 63/100

Tin Can had its North American Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on Saturday, August 7.

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