The eerie orphan twins in Rubin Stein’s Tin & Tina are ardent believers of miracles. And while that may not have been a premeditated metaphor for the film, Stein’s psychological thriller with unsettling echoes of horror is nothing short of a miracle in itself. Raining on the parched terrains of a genre that hasn’t seen ingenuity or a true sense of effort in quite a while, Tin & Tina‘s recycled trope paints masterpieces in each organic frame. For an admirer of body horror such as yours truly to not miss it for a second and to allow the wave of the spine-chilling atmospheric dread to take over–’Tin & Tina’ has to be one of the finest manifestations of a cryptic strain of fear. And what better use of my time, now that I’ll be stewing in the lingering aftereffect of the film anyway, than to explain its perplexing ending to you?
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Tin & Tina’?
God rewards his most loyal followers. God has a plan for everyone. Lola’s faith in the sacred cross took a massive hit when what was supposed to be the most special day of her life was painted a ghastly shade of red by a traumatizing miscarriage. And if losing the twins she had been looking forward to meeting soon didn’t take a big enough toll on her well-being, Lola’s life came to a halt when she found out that she could never conceive again. What followed was an anticipated cloud of grief and depression that would’ve been relatively easier to come out of for Lola had it not been for her well-meaning but obnoxiously egocentric pilot husband, Adolfo. It was the 80s. And the severe lack of help available for someone in Lola’s position made it even harder for her to work through the dread that was brought on by the life-altering loss. And maybe Lola could’ve emerged out of it in one piece if Adolfo’s passive-aggressive persistence didn’t drag her to the local convent to pick out an orphan baby to adopt.
Lola wasn’t too enthused about the idea of adoption until a sense of heavenly tranquility washed over her with the angelic sound coming from the organ. And there they were–a pair of extraordinary pale twins, namely Tin and Tina–with a musical gift that even angels would envy. From the moment Lola laid her eyes on them, she knew that she wanted to bring them home and give them the life that they deserved. And that is what she did, defying the resistance of Adolfo, who found them creepy and off-putting from the get-go. It’s rather strange how the tables turn when the Bible-obsessed twins’ dangerously twisted convictions make Lola’s blood run cold, and it’s Adolfo who unrelentingly finds excuses for their psychotic behavior. It baffles Lola how two kids who, in phases, behave like normal mischievous children, and then, in a matter of seconds, do something that only people with severe psychotic tendencies would do. But Lola holds on–until she can’t. A violently butchered dog, a comatose child, and a brush with death later, Lola is certain that the kids she has adopted are the embodiments of evil.
What Was Wrong With The Twins?
Having spent the formative years of her life in a convent hasn’t necessarily made Lola an especially religious person. And losing her babies right as she was walking out of the church on her wedding day certainly caused a rift between her and God. So, it very understandably takes her a minute to get accustomed to the fact that the children she has adopted know nothing outside the bounds of the Bible and the reverend mother’s doctrines. And she would’ve had no problem getting used to Tin and Tina’s peculiar quirks if they hadn’t started taking the verses etched in the Holy book ridiculously literally. From disemboweling the family pet to “cleanse” its soul to affixing sharp cutlery to their own knees and walking on them as a form of penance–each of their unimaginably frightening actions comes off as their macabre understanding of what they’ve been brainwashed to believe ever since they could comprehend words. But curiously enough, that’s not all that they are doing.
There’s no way that they were taught to bag their heads and bring themselves to the point of life-threatening suffocation to see God and pray for a miracle. Unless, of course, you take into account the possibility of heinous religious punishments they might have been subjected to in the convent. There’s no limit to the kind of volatile religious doctrines that the reverend mother could’ve filled their impressionable minds with. Considering how dismissive she is of Lola’s anxiety when she visits the convent to seek help, it’s entirely possible that the reverend mother has fueled the calamitous tendencies that were already there in Tin and Tina.
It’s scary when perilous acts are carried out by people with ominous intentions. But at the same time, there’s a sense of comfort in the danger that you can see coming. It is, however, tremendously unnerving when innocent kids, imbued with a disturbing sense of good and evil, proceed to act on their perception of righteousness. Their innocence is evident from the sincere happiness they express when Lola is shocked to find out that she’s pregnant. Yet, if anything, the “miraculous” pregnancy and the further cemented belief that it was God who blessed their mother with a baby only provoke Tin and Tina to persist on their path of being the warriors of God. And the next “evil” they eliminate on the Holy Day of Communion is the school bully, Pedro. Having her well-grounded fears dismissed by her husband, who frankly, couldn’t be more of an unsupportive man-child, only makes Lola fear for her and her unborn child’s safety.
Did Tin And Tina Kill Adolfo?
Throughout the hair-raising narrative, Rubin Stein has cautiously skated on the thin ice of religious sentiments without ever coming off controversially critical of it. Tin & Tina staunchly holds on to the air of ambiguity surrounding the source of the odd twins’ deranged endeavors. What the film rather firmly establishes is that Tin and Tina aren’t necessarily beyond help. But that’s certainly not something they are going to get when the patriarch of the family they’ve been adopted into is as clueless and nonchalant as Adolfo. Shrugging off his share of the responsibilities is essentially what he’s trying to do by repeatedly letting them go scot-free and turning a deaf ear to his wife’s legitimate anxiety. He’s concerningly unbothered by the fact that Tin and Tina have caused the death of a little boy. There’s nothing that Adolfo wouldn’t turn a blind eye to so long as it meant that he wouldn’t have to lift a finger.
It’s his disastrous lack of judgment and concern for his pregnant wife’s well-being that allows him to make light of Tin and Tina tying Lola up and attempting to inject her stomach. Sure, the kids are beyond disturbing, but what kind of a man gets on a high horse and accuses his wife of being a bad mother when she has all the reasons in the world to be scared for her life? And it’s not that Adolfo is the very picture of a loving father. Love doesn’t make a father trivialize and, in some ways, even enable the catastrophic whims of his kids. Knowing all too well that misinterpreting the Bible has made Tin and Tina take on some deadly jobs, Adolfo snubs his wife’s request and agrees to baptize their newborn.
For a man who claims to love his family, Adolfo sure does make a fitting show of it when he lounges around sipping beer and watching a game of football while the twins bring the newborn to a near-death state by attempting to baptize him. It’s only then that Adolfo’s questionable reality peeks through his facade of benevolence. He’s too quick to drop off the twins at the convent as though they were toys he’s done playing with. Lola had spent the first years of her marriage submerged in grief. She never really got to know Adolfo as a husband until after the twins were adopted. And what she saw, she certainly didn’t like. What she doesn’t like even more is the kind of undependable and checked-out father that Adolfo is, even when their biological child cries out, and she’s not in the right state of mind to comfort him. And when she does see him for the hopeless, wash-his-hands-of-it kind of man that he is, she’s compelled to question the very foundation of their relationship and if it should even continue. That, ironically, happens to be the chaotic, stormy night when Tin and Tina say their prayers in the convent bunks and acknowledge the thunder as the wrath of God.
The nightmarish ordeal of Adolfo supposedly being struck by lightning, burning to death, and subsequently lighting their house on fire may be the single-most enigmatic event that leaves you perplexed. Did the twins come back to finish what they’d started, or was it merely a freak accident? While Tin & Tina leaves it up to you to draw your own conclusions, there’s enough evidence to back both claims. It’s entirely possible that the sister who was on duty to keep an eye on the kids dozed off and gave an opportunity to Tin and Tina to break out of the convent. When they were first brought to the house, they were strangely curious about how long it would take for them to cross the distance between the convent and their new home on foot. The Chinese plate song blasting out during the disastrous power cut also suggests that the twins might have been present in the house. But wouldn’t it be nearly impossible for two little kids to hike through the woods during a raging storm, carry out a murder, and then safely go back to the convent? If there’s any speculation that does solidify the claim of their involvement, it’s the possibility that Tin and Tina might have done this before with other families that adopted them. It may be that being abandoned time and again and feeling like they never fit in has birthed an indomitable rage in their hearts and that’s what makes them act the way they act. It’s very likely that they were especially attached to Lola; someone they believed was not too dissimilar to them.
Lola’s past as a kid who lost her parents and one of her legs in a tragic fire might have resonated with the two kids who found solace in knowing that they’ve found a home in someone who understands their pain. Maybe it was their plan all along to eliminate Adolfo and have a mother who would love them like her own. And if it was their plan, after the ending scene of Tin & Tina, it’s safe to say that they succeeded. But the real intrigue of the film’s ending isn’t the question of Tin and Tina’s innocence or lack thereof. It’s Lola’s subversive way back to rekindling her relationship with religion when she least expected it.
The Christian belief that God will push you to the extremes to test your faith is disquietingly represented through Lola’s startling action when her back is to the wall. Sitting in a house that is going up in flames and having no clue as to where her newborn might be, Lola is at her wit’s end. So, she takes a leaf out of Tin and Tina’s wicked book and suffocates herself, hoping that God would hear her prayer just like he heard theirs and gave Lola a miracle child. Call it a coincidence or Tin & Tina intentionally transcending the barriers of the worldly rationale; Lola hearing her baby cry out just as she’s about to run out of air is what draws her back into the realm of faith. The rosary that irritated her when she distanced herself from God is the same one she voluntarily wears as she stands before her husband’s grave–not a tinge of sadness on her face.