Tribeca 2017: Tilt
The anxieties of fatherhood are relayed in a visceral fashion in Kasra Farahani's Tilt - a horror film that feels like Eraserhead for the Trump era.
Joseph (Joseph Cross) a documentary filmmaker still holding onto the glory of his first feature (self-reflexively known as 'Tilt' but about pinball gaming) is struggling to finish his latest work. He also feels burdened by the fact that his wife Joanne (Alexia Rasmussen) is pregnant and the days of pursuing his dreams are coming to their end. Over the course of an unspecified amount of time (feeling like weeks/months), Joseph is portrayed as obsessively editing archival footage and recording voiceovers for his project, that doesn't seem to have an end in sight. It's a distraction from the real issues at bay, which has begun to take their toll on his personality, as seen by the amount of alone time he spends at night, going out dressed in a hoodie and aggressively chain-smoking.
What we get from Tilt is a unique approach to the horror film, brought about from the sense of fear that one gets from not knowing how to deal with a situation as it encroaches with each passing day. Joseph realizes he's unfit to be a dad and in his current employment status, doesn't have what it takes to provide for his family. This eats away at him to the point where his darker impulses take over, resulting in a series of violent acts aimed at the greater society, as well as the ones close to him.
The concept behind Farahani's film is certainly intriguing, however, a bit of the impact is lost in how the audience spends so much time in Joseph's deeply troubled state of mind, when many of these scenes ultimately feel redundant and do not manage to escalate until the very end. We're expected to sympathize with the way he is portrayed early on before having the rug pulled out from underneath, but its the actual sinister moments that feel like they could have used a stronger sense of emphasis within the greater whole. Like Farahani's previous feature The Good Neighbor starring James Caan, Tilt plays with our expectations for where the story is going, and manages to switch gears enough to maintain an element of surprise, but the end result still feels lacking that extra push factor to really make it special.