Director and writer Ivan Kavanagh who just released his acclaimed film The Canal (2014) finally found distribution for his lesser-known horror art-house flick called Tin Can Man, which had the release granted in March 2012, thanks to BrinkVision. Ivan sets up an uncomfortable beginning for most viewers, except perhaps the horror elitists, and lasts this quirky sensational first act, for 30 minutes, adding to a strong strange introducing first Pete and then mysterious Dave.
The story first does not operate like a normal storyline, no narration, no direction, that seems completely fine with the director, almost as the viewer falls into a true voyeur position, and following an open-ended relationship, leaping to comparison to either Body Double or Rear Window. Pete (Patrick O’Donnell) life swirls at the bottom of life, with his boring cubicle isolating nightmare job, a now ex-girlfriend who rejects his marriage proposal for the strength and confidence of another man, existing in the dingiest and gloomy apartment possible. But a knock at the door, will change his life in more than one, hence the introduction of Dave (Michael Parle – who stars in Night People (2015)), a man needing to use a phone to report an accident, a slight reference back A Clockwork Orange, yet something deeper lies under the surface. His deep laughter echoing about the accident, after phone call, he stays and stands ground, silent intimidation of Pete, bringing a new level of invitation to for chaos. The convincing performances from both actors resides in the word exquisite, the power play of dominance and submission in a non-sexual manner, the usage of Dave’s sadistic qualities heighten the tension for viewers, but not the intended target, as again they (us) lie as a flies on the wall, uncaring for our enjoyment.
The fear and sense of terror plays out in dramatic fashions leading into mounting influences that run the gambit of fears, including one involving Pete’s father, where it touches briefly, for the first time, even borderline light on the subject of suggestion of gayness of his son. The reference to no confidence with work, alluding to losing his girlfriend, the immediate submission to Dave, and then the older generation close mindedness to change, and acceptance. This illusion comes more apparent, when Pete must assist his father in the duty of his urination, and the accompanying him to bathroom, all as a fulfilling observation before Dave. As for the Tin Can Man, a masked mute sad creature cover in tin cans made to sing and entertain in a pathetic portion, as part of freak-show of long ago, all at the beckon command of Dave. Ivan obvious sought to gain sympathy from first Pete and then the audience, similar to The Elephant Man, did for audiences, although having taken the narrative away, and reducing the viewers to a secondary position, the pulling at heart strings runs a tad on the empty side for this portion of the film.
Ivan maintains a solid Chinese wall, keeping on the Pete and Dave, and absent on the audience, this play focus on them, and viewers hold in contempt, however, this ignorant afterthought, only drives one further into the torture of the to creep peeks as the story unfolds. The cinematic style shows an original thinking, putting layers, upon layers, of mysterious, foreshadowing kept to a bare minimum and requiring patience. This film requires attention, not a cursory glance, rather penetrating deep to one’s mind to experience a black and white movie, which uses the shadows to express intentions of psychological dominance. The methodology, of lighting techniques expounds greatly, with the character developing a very direct dialog as if the words cutting back the one’s scalp to expose the brain the elements of terrors, and scratching the scabs of time away to render one overwhelming humiliated with terror.
Dave strives easily as the villainous man in this creepy mysterious film, to victimize a poor naïve Pete, both actors excelled brilliantly in the roles, and allowed one to understand the significance of submission into a depraved and bizarre nightmarish sequence filled with tremendous reserve terrors delivered nicely in a seducing manner. Overall, Parle and O’Donnell’s characters are kindred spirits, as rejection and acceptance of both blend and their self-loathing grow into a numbing warp relationship, with a mad finish.