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‘Tin and Tina’ Review

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Tin and Tina’

By RICHARDPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

Tin and Tina (now on Netflix) is a Spanish horror film about little orphan fraternal twins who love God so much they seem capable of doing anything to show it. Anything! That includes – well, I won't give it away, but the words "Spanish horror film" should give you enough of a clue that this could be a rough outing, maybe the grimmest since, I dunno, The Pope's Exorcist? Let's find out.


The Gist: Let's get one thing straight: We meet Adolfo (Jaime Lorente) and Lola (Milena Smit) on their wedding day, and "Lola" isn't her full name. Per the adjudicator of the wedding, her real name is Maria de los Dolores, which translates roughly to "Maria of the Pains." And that's "pains" as in "suffering" and "ouch" and "ugh dammit" and all the things associated with such things. And her Dolores starts right away, possibly when she looks up at Jesus on the cross during the ceremony, but after. They're behind the church doors, freshly married, and everyone's waiting outside for them to emerge, and this is when we learn she's pregnant with twins. They walk out to their family and friends and don't cheer. They gasp. A streak of blood from her abdomen stains her wedding dress. Cut to the hospital: She awakens and looks up, and above the bed is Jesus looking down from his damn cross again, but from this angle, he's upside-down, which I think is what you call a sign. A harbinger. Or, in the vocabulary of storytelling, foreshadowing. The nurse and Adolfo come in, and the news is terrible. She miscarried, and it did enough damage that she'll never bear children. Jesus strikes again!

We know six months go by because Adolfo says, "It's been six months," when he enters the room where Lola is depressed and taking prescription drugs. You can't help but empathize. It isn't very good. Her dreams of raising a family are smashed, and she feels lost. There's only one thing dumbass movies can do in this serious situation, which offers a dubious solution: Go down to the local convent and adopt whatever's available. Adolfo and Lola meet with Sr. Asuncion (Teresa Rabal), who goes everywhere in her damn bare feet. She takes in all the unwanted local children and suggests twins abandoned at the convent door at a few weeks old. They're Tin (Carolos G. Morollon) and Tina (Anastasia Russo), fraternal with albinism, godawful bangs, and bowl cuts. It's 1981, but that's no excuse for making children look hideous. Adolfo thinks they're too odd, but Lola asserts they're just kids and need love. Lola is a good person.

But! Lola is also not religious. Does that make her less than a good person? This movie might be saying that, but it also might not because I need to figure out what it wants to say. It isn't certain whether she lost her faith in the wake of her misfortune or never really had. It's crucial for this movie that she be quite the skeptic these days, which clashes mightily with the two children she just adopted from a convent where they learned the bible, the bible, and the bible, in that specific order, and not much else. They hang up crucifixes everywhere, gift her a rosary and Adolfo a crown of thorns (OK then!), make sure they say grace before meals, go on about "the exterminating angel," practically beg for punishment when they sin, etc. Frankly should have called Ned Flanders for this pair.

They've never seen a TV, and the family dog, Kuki, must smell something bad about them because he barks at them. Remember, THEY'RE JUST CHILDREN. They can't help that they're creepy and off-putting. And sometimes very sweet and happy, except when Tina suffocates Tin with a plastic bag so he can "see God," even then, that's just one of their quirks, I guess? Then one fateful night, they decide the dog needs to be dissected, and, well, no spoilers. But I hope Adolfo and Lola kept the receipt!

Our Take: Hey, they're just kids. And they're just following the bible. Nothing wrong with that! Unless you're the family dog or the school bully. But the real problem here is the nonbeliever in our midst, Lola. Or is it? Who knows! Tin and Tina are either effing with us or don't have their shit together, or maybe both. One way it effs with us is with monthslong narrative leaps, which are fine in storytelling. Still, they illustrate how Adolfo and Lola have adopted children's hideous haircuts instead of removing the scissors and rendering them presentable. Tin and Tina are absurdly over-conceptualized as it is, and their creepy-ass fashion and mannerisms push the film from psychological horror drama right into the middle of Campville.

But let's stay focused here: I was talking about religion. Writer/director Rubin Stein might be criticizing rigid Catholic fundamentalism or embracing it; who can tell; more likely, it's just a springboard for a series of silly, predictable scenes and plot developments, ranging from miracles to blasphemy to rigid interpretations of scripture, with plenty of cliched creepy-sibling interplay that inspires more derogatory snickers than chills. Stein seems to have put the cart before the horse and crafted the plot and its ballpeen-to-the-skull "themes" before the characters because the latter consistently function at the service of the former and are also ceaselessly annoying. The screenplay traps Lola in a faith limbo, lets her out during a pretty wild finale – including a lengthy single-take Steadicam shot that surely required powerful choreography and preparation – then traps her back in it during a real eye-roller of an outcome. There's some serious visual filmmaking happening here, but you can't take any of this material seriously. And therein, as they say, lies the rub.

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