So far in 2023, Netflix has put almost no effort into platforming new horror content. Just last week, however, the streaming giant quietly dropped the latest Mexican horror outing, Tin & Tina. Consider it yet another addition to the always popular creepy kids subgenre. On the surface, this one looks like it will recycle most of the familiar tropes including the same ‘nature vs nurture’ debate dating all the way back to the 50s classic, The Bad Seed. Not too many critics or fans have seen this one but the buzz isn’t particularly strong.
On their wedding day, Adolfo and Lola suffer a tragedy – Lola loses her unborn child. Several months later, still reeling from the loss, the couple adopts a pair of strange twins from a local convent. However, the twins extreme religious fundamentalism quickly escalates from peculiar to deadly.
Tin & Tina Alternates Between Disturbing and Formulaic
When it works Tin & Tina is often an effectively disturbing thriller. Straight from its opening scene, writer and director Rubin Stein grabs your attention and largely holds it throughout the first act. There’s plenty of atmosphere and a handful of truly shocking scenes. Despite the many ways in which Tin & Tina follows the ‘creepy kids’ narrative, Stein still finds a few new ways to unsettle. When Tina places a plastic bag over her brother’s head, suffocating him briefly, and explaining that it helped him see ‘God’, the thriller captures an air of danger. A later scene that finds the twins ‘baptizing’ their newborn brother feels supremely suspenseful.
In spite of a handful of uncomfortable moments, Tin & Tina can’t hide its more formulaic bits.
Too bad Stein can’t sustain these moments and turn them into something greater. In spite of a handful of uncomfortable moments, Tin & Tina can’t hide its more formulaic bits. Chief amongst its problems is the extent to which the thriller’s story relies on characters making incredibly poor decisions. In particular, Jaime Lorente’s (Money Heist) ‘Adolfho’ may be the most frustrating character in recent memory. And with a runtime that just falls short of two hours, Tin & Tina seriously miscalculates the strength of its story, long overstaying its welcome.
Tin & Tina Doesn’t Do Nearly Enough With Interesting Ideas
Somewhere in Tin & Tina are hints of a much better thriller. Early in the thriller, Stein teases the importance of religious fanaticism in both superficial and potentially deeper ways. First, there’s the obvious fact that the twins were raised in a convent rooted in strict fundamentalism. As the story progresses, the children show a devout devotion that teases tension with an adoptive mother who has lost faith. It’s there in small, obvious ways – the children wanting a prayer before each meal and their placement of crucifixes throughout the house. By and large, Stein stokes this tension quite well over the middle act. As mentioned above, several disturbing moments arise from the
Early in the thriller, Stein teases the importance of religious fanaticism in both superficial and potentially deeper ways.
Yet as Tin & Tina buckles under its own length, Stein never really digs into his own ideas around religion. Are the children naïve or is there a more insidious intent behind their behaviour? What about the convent and its ‘Mother Superior”? Instead of more deeply exploring religious extremism, Stein’s content to follow the ‘creepy kids’ blueprint right up until the final act. Here, Tin & Tina swerves hard into ideas about faith that demand a suspension of disbelief the story hasn’t earned. In fact, the final act not only contradicts much of what has proceeded it but also seemingly validates fundamentalism.
Tin & Tina an Unremarkable Addition to the Creepy Kids Subgenre
Well-shot, a few decent scares, and a last-minute attempt at something interesting can’t save Tin & Tina from itself. At its core, this is still a ‘creepy kids’ horror movie overly reliant on characters making incredibly stupid and implausible decisions. Though religious fanaticism weaves itself throughout this thriller – and Stein makes a last ditch effort to do something interesting with it – it’s still a trope-reliant effort. As a result, the final twist feels completely unearned. And a near two-hour runtime feels unnecessary. Ultimately, Tin & Tina is a watchable, but forgettable, addition to the subgenre.