TIN CAN (2020) REVIEW: A Love Story In Reverse


The director of TIN CAN (Seth A. Smith) can be heard in the commentary saying that if there isn’t a chance for catastrophic failure on a project, it probably isn’t worth it. And while the film is unexpectedly tinged with real world catastrophe, the movie is far from being one.

I mean, this frame alone is worth it, so just imagine the other 2,495.

TIN CAN is Smith’s third outing as a feature film director. Here he continues the tonal balance of existential dread and hopeful longing seen in both LOWLIFE (An exploited girl helplessly addicted to a substance you absolutely will never guess) and THE CRESCENT (A mother and child coping with the loss of someone…or is it the other way round?) Love and fear constantly dancing with one another in an unsettling yet romantic landscape. In fact, Smith calls TIN CAN a love story in reverse.

Seth himself says this movie technically has a happy ending, so no need to worry, right?

TIN CAN is a story of a virus, the company trying to preserve life during the pandemic, and the relationships of the people who work there, all of which are placed under the microscope and sealed away.

Did I mention this was all conceptualized before Covid?

No. Really. I would say you can’t make this up, but they literally did.

The virus in question, “Coral”, and the film it’s contained in were all well into production just as the coronavirus began to affect the real world. So much so in fact that the theme of preservation spilled over, causing the film itself to be preserved in its own tin can come time to hit the festival scene.

Writer Darcy Spidle, Producer Nancy Urich, and Director Seth A. Smith at the screening of TIN CAN on 9/21/21, over a year after the film’s official release.

So one might think the eerie similarities in the first half of the film are a reflection of our time spent isolated from one another when in fact Cut/Off/Tail Productions should sue Covid-19 for copyright infringement.

Once you settle into the film however, you are given a wonderfully heartbreaking story about frailty, love, and the cost of being truly human, both good and bad.

The story centers around a scientist named Fret.

Played by the understated talent of Anna Hopkins to perfection, carrying a large portion of screen time on her own.

While making progress towards the cure for “Coral”, Fret loses consciousness unexpectedly, only to wake up inside the claustrophobic confines of a curious containment unit and soon discover she is surrounded by others in the same predicament.

Mondays. Am I right?

The movie itself is divided into two parts with each retaining the focus on confinement in such devilishly clever ways, I’d be a real a-hole to spoil the fun. I will however say that joining her on and off camera are Simon Mutabazi, Amy Trefry, legends Michael Ironside & Tim Dunn, and repeat offender Chik White (if that even is his real name) slowly becoming the “Doug Jones of Canada”. Seriously, it might be easier to point out the people in the movie who aren’t Chik White. Oh, and keen viewers can even find a cameo or two from some Trailer Park Boys alumni.


Given Smith’s background in music (The frontman of Dog Day), his aptitude for layering in genuine human emotion between the imagery and story (written by  returning collaborator Darcy Spidle) presented to us is off the charts. The finer details are never wasted, and each frame, each line of dialogue, each meticulously created sound seem to hold multiple meanings that give the film some serious rewatch value. Each new viewing offers something missed the time before. A name here. A prop there. The film has a genuine sense of movie magic when it comes to the wonderment of how it was made on such a limited budget. It proves again that limitations make creativity grow like mold on a test slide. Luckily for us, both a feature length commentary and a behind-the-scenes documentary are included on the Blu-ray.

Spoiler alert for this review: You should go buy it.

And having a background in music doesn’t hurt when it comes time to compose the score. The award winning music is outstanding, proving again Smith is on the same level as John Carpenter when it comes to memorable film scores from directors. (Seriously, THE CRESCENT score is massively underrated). But Smith’s most certainly not the only chef in the kitchen.

Pulling countless duties alongside him are his wife Nancy (among many things, the film’s producer and member of Dog Day herself) and Darcy Spidle (the film’s writer, jaw harpist, and alter ego of actor Chik White). In fact this trio of many hats have been working together in some sort of holy indie trinity for over a decade, raising the independent film bar.

Look at ’em. Being all talented.

When all is said to be said and done, effective horror needs to have a heart in order for it to be felt when it’s ripped out, and the cast and crew of TIN CAN have given it heart. It’s a beautiful film that you can’t look away from, even in the presence of ugly truths that are inherently a part of life. Smith, a self proclaimed fan of Cronenberg, uses the distortion of human form to reveal the real people lying underneath just trying to find meaning in something outside themselves like flowers reaching for sunlight. TIN CAN not only asks us why we are more obsessed with trying to preserve the beauty of life than observing it, it asks us if we should bother preserving it at all risk the beauty itself losing value.

While it may only be seeing a proper release almost two years later, TIN CAN is a sci-fi horror lover’s treat that has an amazing shelf life, now and into the future.

TIN CAN is available for on all major digital services, or available for purchase on Blu-Ray either through Dread Central or directly from Fundog Productions where you can also find the score alongside other musical projects, including Dog Day. I personally recommend to all you Lynch/Cronenberg fans to snag the LOWLIFE/TIN CAN bundle that includes a digital copy of the TIN CAN score as well.

THE LOG HOUSE (Guest Review)

“I know that they are strong and fast. They don’t feel fear, don’t even know what it means. You can’t ward them off with charms and urban legends. They can climb and run and they never tire. Only the light can distract them, and once that has gone, you have nothing. They will see you, and once they have, they will never stop until they have you. If they knew we were here, we’d already be dead.”
-Penny, protagonist of The Log House

Imagine a forest that loses its serenity the longer you inspect every individual piece of its whole, evolving into a looming fear that can only be alleviated one of two ways.

Pull your focus back to ignorance and rejoin the lie of serenity, or keep looking closer to learn the truth, no matter how ugly it may be.

That’s where Baylea puts you, not only within the story, but with the characters as well.

Thanks to an event through Pigeonhole, I was fortunate enough to read Baylea Hart’s debut novel in advance.

And what a hell of a debut novel it is.

Though her first novel, Baylea is no newcomer to the horror scene. From writing and directing short films to having her work published in horror-writers.com’s very own anthology “Dreams of Desolation”, she’s had her toe dipped in the bloody waters for some time now.

The Last of Us meets The Village meets Children of Men, The Log House is a survival horror on a quaint scale. A whatnot of suspenseful dread lurking in tranquility that haunts you with lingering imagery.

After an unexpected attack, Penny finds herself on her own, separated from the safety of her village, unable to be rescued. Now she must journey through the cold wilderness alone and find a way back home to her son before her passage is closed off for the winter, sealing her fate as well. But is she truly alone?

Penny’s mission is one filled with questions, doubt, and unquestionable fear. And as each footstep she takes reveals more truths about her past and present, the more uncertain the future becomes.

Penny herself is flawed, but to what extent is the driving force. Her heart is cold and buried, but does it still beat? And what buried it so deeply?

Ultimately, it’s not about Penny’s goal to survive the living rot from a dying world and rescue her son, but rather or not if she deserves to be reunited with him. What does the darkness and the silence hold for Penny in addition to “them”?

To say more would rob the reader of the experience of learning the ugly truths, for it’s not what we see that frightens us, but what we don’t see. The unraveling of the unknown is the driving force. But all questions, all paths, all conflicts and resolutions, all begin and end at one place.

The Log House

You can find her book at:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

And follow Baylea on her site or at Twitter

Castlevania: TV Review

If you’re on this site, you loved monsters as a kid. Probably even had a “Monster In My Pocket” or two.

…or forty-eight

And during those days, you probably held that familiar Nintendo controller in your hand and threw down on some Zelda, Mario, or Metroid. But, as a monster lover, you inevitably found yourself playing one of the earliest horror games the NES had to offer.

Well, yeah, but… Man, did that game dash away the hopes of a fun weekend for so many kids.

But no, that’s not the game I was talking about.

How Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde got that same Nintendo Seal of Approval, I’ll never understand.

Released by Konami back in 1986, Castlevania was the go-to game for horror-loving gamers who didn’t mind getting their asses handed to them by the monsters they loved. And if you were just into challenging action platformers, Castlevania converted you into a fan of the macabre that was handed out in doses.

This should do you till the epicness that is Super Castlevania IV on the SNES.

Though the plots of each game took place over centuries, the premise was simple. Every hundred years, good begins to fade amongst the hearts of men, and Count Dracula wakes from his slumber inside his castle to spew forth unspeakable horrors onto all the neighboring villages.


That’s where the Belmonts came in. A family of monster hunters and vampire killers, you would find yourself playing as one, armed with the weapon passed down through the generations and created for the sole purpose of destroying Dracula and all his evil minions. The “Vampire Killer”!

Okay look. I know it’s not the most original name, but this thing can hurt Death himself, so, you know, shut up

And the best part? Dracula had just about every known monster at his disposal. We’re talking Frakenstein’s Creature, mummies, evil knights, fish-men, zombies, werewolves, Medusas, skele-men, golems, gargoyles, hydras, demons…and a pair of dancing specters named Paula Abghoul and Fred Askare.

You thought I was joking, but there they are in the manual. Again, look, Death is also a boss.

The amount of lore that has built up through twenty-three games, spanning a timeline from 1094 to 2036, is staggering. And that doesn’t even count the “Lords of Shadow” alternate timeline. With this gothic treasure trove, you’d imagine someone would have tried to adapt it by now.

As much as I loved Captain N as a kid, that isn’t Simon Belmont anymore than that green guy is supposed to be Mega Man.

Well, after a decade of development hell, Netflix and Producer Adi Shankar have resurrected writer Warren Ellis’ adaptation of the game series from its tomb as an animated series.

And my God, is it good. It’s probably the best adaptation of a video game to date.

Sorry Mario. Now you’ll know how Luigi feels being in second.


Based on “Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse”, the story takes place in 1476, a year after an event that promises to bring forth the vengeance of Vlad Dracula Tepes upon the nation of Wallachia. The misguided Church vow God’s divine intervention if all the non believers are dealt with, including a mysterious group seeking a legendary savior supposedly slumbering in the catacombs.

As the day of vengeance draws closer and the innocent suffer as horribly as the damned, the greatest chance at defeating Dracula is the last son of the family who were cast out of society for their ties to the supernatural.

Trevor Belmont.

What’s this in my hand, Dracula? Funny you should ask.

And when you take a story that is filled with every possible monster imaginable, there’s only one left to add. The most terrifying:

Thought that was gonna be a Kardashians joke, didn’t you? They’d already be dead in this world, and you know it.

One of the most interesting aspects added to the story is the looming threat of The Church and its belief that everything being done is right because it is in His name. And nothing is more dangerous than ignorance acted out with infallibility. In fact, that is the very thing that has ultimately set the nation up for its destruction.

The nation of Wallachia of course. Can you imagine if I was talking about the United States?

Can. You. Imagine?

But a chessboard, even one as beautiful as this one, is nothing without the chess pieces.


What were once literally 2D characters on a CRT Television in your parents living room have been given a rich depth once left up to us gamers to provide.

Today, all we gotta do is hold the X button.

Our protaganist of this story is Trevor Belmont, current wielder of the “Vampire Killer” and all around nice guy.

I’m kidding. Trevor is an asshole.

[singing] There goes my hero!

Though rightly so. His family protected the lands for hundreds of years, keeping away the evils that lurk in the night and then were promptly thanked with accusations of being gold-seeking witches and warlocks.

You know, like this company of cash vampires is actually guilty of being.


So growing up and training your entire life to protect the ones who spit at you for doing so can leave you with a bit of hesitation to intervene. That and some razor sharp sarcasm. But our anti-hero is still a hero. And while his reluctance to help those who reject him exists, he never deviates from his purpose to defeat Dracula. He just wants a beer while he’s waiting.

But on the other side of the coin is Dracula himself. And right from the initial moments of the show, Dracula is given what he has been sorely missing from the main Castlevania series.


Dracula is no longer just a final boss inexplicably evil for the sake of being defeated. In the series, his 8-bit bones have been fleshed out into a cursed man inflicting his curse upon those that took his humanity from him. Much like Mr. Freeze in “Batman: The Animated Series”, he can be sympathized with in spite of his actions. And when you can question the actions of sending baby-eating demons into the homes of those who wronged you, maybe things aren’t so black and white in the show.

And as the whip’s end collided with Dracula’s face, Belmont whispered, ‘I’m sorry this has to happen to you’.


What is quite possibly my favorite aspect of the show, the dialogue exchanges are nothing short of superb. From the hilarious, sarcastic quips to the bone-chilling laments before both heartbreak and horror, all of it raises the stakes.

Oh ha ha. I’m trying to be serious here.

There are moments of sheer brilliance with the spoken word. The first episode alone will give you more goosebumps than…damn. I know there’s a good comparison there related to horror.

Nope. I’ve got nothing. Oh well. We all can’t be R.L. Stine.


Spearheading the show is Powerhouse Animation. Their biggest project to date, the studio took most of their influence from the conceptual and promotional artwork of Castlevania, namely the PlayStation classic “Symphony of the Night”. The overall asthetic is as Castlevania should be.

Dark. Gothic. Audacious.


It’s easy to mistake this show as anime. But unlike having the prevalent mark of every action super-stylized, Powerhouse has restrained themselves, giving each moment, each limited frame, purpose. The difference between how a drunken Victor in a barfight is animated and a sober (well, not so drunk) Victor killing a monster later on is very noticeable, and it should be.

By holding back the fluidity of skill behind the methodical, sometimes clumsy movements of being human, the impact of its revelation in the action scenes has much more impact upon the viewer. And this is proven with each fight Victor encounters with the supernatural, especially the one in the final moments of Episode 4.

Yeah, I’m not spoiling that one for you.

And just as the first season comes to a close, you are visually taught what it means to be a Belmont as Trevor accepts the challenge he was destined to face yet hesitated to admit was his.


See how I mentioned the season finale and Episode 4 pretty close to each other? Yeah, that’s because the first season is only four episodes at roughly half an hour each.

I know. I know. That’s the only real negative I have for the show is the pacing of each episode and length of the season. But, before you get upset, you should know two things.

First, when Warren Ellis was first working on this back in 2007, it was intended to be a direct-to-video animated film. And when you binge watch this (and you will), you’ll be quick to notice the pacing of each episode is corrected when viewed as a single movie. Ellis quickly learned that one movie wouldn’t be enough and planned it out to be a trilogy of films.

Second, the day Castlevania premiered, Netflix announced 8 episodes were already in the works for “Season 2”. You just need a little math to figure out that the other two installments are on the way, most likely completing Trevor’s tale in the Castlevania timeline.

And this time in between is what excites me most. Wondering what monsters we’ll see and how epic the journey through the mechanical labyrinth that is Dracula’sl castle will be.

But knowing that, even after the storyline of Dracula’s Curse is done, we could see each season following another game in the timeline, leaping across the centuries and seeing what a 100 years at a time does to all those involved with keeping Dracula inside his tomb.

This show has amazing potential. But for now, it’s a damn good start worth your time.

FEAR STREET! It’ll give you more goosebumps than Fear Street! That’s what I was thinking of earlier!

Nailed it!


My thanks to Shawn and Dusty for letting me write another article. I do love them so.

I have a survival-horror western out called “Year 47” on Amazon. You can pick it up here.

I’m no R.L. Stine, but Horror Writers themselves gave it “Novel of the Year” for 2016.

Also, you can follow me on Twitter: @infrafan