The life of three parents who have all shared the loss of a child. Motives are not what they seem and sanity is in short supply in this thriller.The life of three parents who have all shared the loss of a child. Motives are not what they seem and sanity is in short supply in this thriller.The life of three parents who have all shared the loss of a child. Motives are not what they seem and sanity is in short supply in this thriller.
We are first greeted with Esther Woodhouse (Alexia Rasmussen), a pregnant woman who, judging by the looks of her stomach, is very close to her due date, emerging from a clinic to only be savagely attacked by a random mugger. She suffers a miscarriage and is left physically deformed, and, due to obtaining the sperm from a sperm bank, has almost nobody to help her through her tragedy. On an off- the-cuff decision, Esther visits a support group for grieving parents, where she meets Melanie Michaels (Alexa Havins), who claims her husband and son were killed. Esther becomes close with Melanie, much to the dismay of Esther's jealous lover Anika Barön (Kristina Klebe).
This is all of the plot I'm willing to give away, for Proxy is one of those films where the line between basic plot summation and spoiler territory is so incredibly thin that another few words added to a sentence could spoil more of the movie experience. It doesn't matter, though, for I'm in the business of opinion and not synopsis. From the moment it kicks off, Proxy is potent and terrifying as a horror film, always engaging the viewer with elements of mystery and character insincerity and keeping them immersed by moving quite frequently and scarcely letting up. In addition, the performances, specifically Rasmussen and Havins, convey a detached and disconnected sense of reality that is almost necessary in a film where the audience is unsure of who is honest, as well as the characters themselves.
On top of that, there is a serious feeling of contempt and loathe that looms over the viewer with every scene, making this a deeper and more investing horror film than I initially imagined. The way the film plays with your emotions by taking numerous social tragedies and lumping together, not for shock, but for the sake of narrative potency and the near-personification of fear is just delightful. Director and co- writer Zack Parker (working alongside writing partner Kevin Donner) take their time to allow slowburn tension to develop, as Proxy occupies a liberally-used two hours, sometimes focusing on conversation, character interest, or events, depending on the current mood of the writers. At two hours, there is ample amount of time to spend on all these aspects, assuring we never get a thoughtful film that races by too quickly to even be analyzed.
Proxy's only issue is that not every performer can make the transition from disconnected to fiery and fuming with anger, most notably Joe Swanberg, one of my favorite directors, who has played low-key for so long perhaps his attempt at sudden rage just feels off-kilter for that reason. There is an understandable mixed reaction to Proxy for more than just its performances, but above all, like many films released under the IFC Midnight label, it's a nasty but thoroughly commendable piece of work illustrating fine- tuned components in a genre that so desperately needs not only some subversiveness but some age-old ideas done correctly rather than haphazardly.
Starring: Alexia Rasmussen, Alexa Havins, Kristina Klebe, and Joe Swanberg. Directed by: Zack Parker.
- Oct 17, 2014