Tin Can: Finding a Heart of Tin

Every tin man has a heart.

Set in the near future, Tin Can begins with Fret (Anna Hopkins), a front-lines parasitologist interested in mutating the human genome in order to extend the length of human life. However, when Fret?s experiments go horribly wrong, the world is exposed to a deadly plague that threatens extinction. When she finds herself imprisoned in a life-suspension chamber, Fret must work with others around her to escape and find a way to keep the remaining members of the human race alive.

With wild aesthetics and storytelling, Tin Can feels like the darkest timeline for the current global pandemic. With an emphasis on the devastation that can take place when humanity attempts to mess with nature, Smith has created an innovative and creative science fiction narrative that keeps the viewer?s attention.

Somewhat surprisingly, Smith opts to break the film into two halves. Whereas the first half of the film feels like a trapped in a ?box thriller?, the second spiral explores the more sci-fi elements of the story. (If you?re looking for a comparison, imagine watching Ryan Reynolds? Buried, only for it to spin into an episode of Doctor Who.) On paper, the styles of story don?t seem as though they should work. However, Smith?s commitment to the story manages to bring them together.

Amidst the shadows of corruption, Smith?s cautionary tale explores the worst possible outcomes of man?s desire to live forever. As Fret works tirelessly to create a vaccine that will help keep life going, so too does she also invariably do the opposite. In this way, the film manages to embed a subtle commentary about privatization of healthcare (as only a true Canadian film could do). Fret?s ambitious desire to make medical history becomes humanity?s downfall. However, her experiments only stand to benefit the super-rich and are not free for all. Admittedly, as things spiral out of hand, the commentary begins to fall away from Smith?s film.

However, the impact is left.

Although the film leans into its own darkness, there is an element of hope that breaks through. Despite the fact that Fret begins with enthusiasm for what she can accomplish, the result begin to shift her priorities. As she begins to realize the gravity of her work, Fret?s concern becomes the survival of others, including those who have wronged her. Faced with the extinction of our species, Fret realizes that the value of all humankind matters most and she fights to save them, even when beating an all-powerful virus seems impossible.

Because, when compassion wins out over corruption, everybody wins.

While the film carries a deep heaviness throughout, Tin Can is surprisingly engaging. Although filming was completed before the global pandemic took hold, Smith has created a narrative that speaks to our current situation and highlights the necessity of helping one another in the midst of our suffering. In many ways, the title Tin Can works beyond the obvious connections to the script?s claustrophobic atmosphere and robotic creatures. After all, this is a film which wants us to look for the heartbeat of humanity underneath the metallic exterior.

To hear our interview with Seth A. Smith, click here.

Tin Can is available on VOD on Friday, March 18th, 2022.

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