Grace Glowicki shows promise with Tito, but the film is ultimately little more than a strange trifle.
Grace Glowicki‘s Tito is the kind of strange, no-budget oddity that barely gets released these days. Equal parts cringe comedy and nightmare fantasy, Tito isn’t exactly successful, but its commitment to weirdness at least manages to leave an impression. Glowicki herself stars as Tito, an impossibly bizarre little hunched back man who barely speaks, wears a rape whistle around his neck, and can’t bring himself to leave the house. The beginning of the film finds Tito pacing inside his home, looking for food, and cowering from imagined voices. It’s immediately reminiscent of Polanski’s Repulsion — except funny. Glowicki furthers this comic unease through a tendency to favor static shots focused on large, empty spaces, and Tito often disrupts this calm by nervously poking his head in from the edge of the frame like a timid mouse. After an aborted trip to the grocery store and an incident involving cereal and lots of vomit, Tito wakes from a fitful sleep to discover a stranger in his home. The stranger (never named in the film and identified in the credits only as ‘the friendly neighbor’), played by Ben Petrie, claims to have known the people who lived in the house before Tito and still possesses a spare key. He’s prepared a feast, and despite some trepidation, Tito can’t help but to eat. Petrie’s fun-loving bro is everything Tito is not: talkative, outgoing, and remarkably comfortable in his own skin. He’s almost too charming, plying Tito with weed and food, and the pair appear to be on the path to fast friendship.
Glowicki does an admirable job of threading a difficult needle here, giving us glimpses of Petrie’s character gradually overstepping boundaries and increasingly ingratiating himself into Tito’s home. The first time he sleeps over on the couch, he apologizes for getting too high and passing out. The second time it happens, it appears to be more intentional. When Tito finally suggests that his new friend head home so that he can get some work done, the mask slips and the stranger loses it. It’s all downhill from there, as Petrie’s character becomes more agitated and sexually aggressive, pulling up some explicit 3D animated porn on Tito’s computer and then harassing him into going out to a bar with him to look for chicks. The film’s final act is pretty messy, as it disintegrates into a nightmarish fever dream before abruptly ending (the film is only 70 minutes long).
Glowicki seems to have taken some visual inspiration from Phillipe Grandrieux and even Ben Russell’s Trypps #3, shrouding figures in darkness and then lighting herself with only a single spotlight. As part of the film’s Kickstarter campaign, Glowicki penned an essay detailing her desire to address issues of sexual assault and rape. Unfortunately, the film is far too slight to support such a lofty agenda, not least because Glowicki plays Tito as essentially a comic figure, a kind of gawky, awkward, goth Tati. Tito is a kind of low budget Tim Burton sketch, and while it has its pleasures, attempting to tackle weighty themes isn’t one of them. Still, there’s enough here to suggest Glowicki’s clear promise, and while this time out her vision ultimately amounts to little, adventurous viewers with a taste for the outré could do much worse than Tito.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | July 2020.