The only things that I knew about Proxy before going in, was that it featured Joe Swanberg, was directed by Zack Parker, that also directed Scalene, and that I really liked the cover art. I knew that there was a quote on the front cover from the LA times, calling the film “A worthy successor to Rosemary’s Baby”, and that’s about it. I guess I can kind of see the comparison that the LA Times reviewer was trying to make, but for any fans of Rosemary’s Baby, it puts an expectation in your head that Proxy will have an incredibly hard time living up to. At the end of the day, some horrific things happen in this film, but I would have a hard time categorizing it as a straight-up horror film. To set your expectations a little closer to reality, Proxy is sort of about Munchausen By Proxy. That’s not to say that it is similar to the scenes in The Sixth Sense, where the mother is purposefully keeping her child sick, and ultimately kills it for the attention she receives, but more along the lines that the main characters featured in this film enjoy the attention they get from strangers, after supposedly experiencing a traumatic loss. There are no demons, possessions, or anything of the such in this film, so please understand that before you press the play button.
From The Press Release:
In the last month of her pregnancy, Esther Woodhouse is savagely beaten in an alleyway by an unknown assailant and loses her baby. To aid in her recovery, she attends a support group for grieving parents where she meets Melanie, who claims her son and husband were killed by a drunk driver.
Esther and Melanie develop a friendship, but soon it becomes clear that both are harboring much darker secrets than they initially let on. And when both their lives are transformed by another shocking act of violence, they find that recovery may be impossible.
With wildly unpredictable twists and turns, PROXY is a “fascinating, unnerving and endlessly unpredictable” (Inkoo Kang, LA Times) psychological thriller.
The cast of Proxy did a really good job, despite the script being far too windy. Joe Swanberg is the king of mumblecore, and I think a lot of the characteristics of that sub-genre are quite prevalent in Parker’s new film. There are some actors in this film that have appeared in some high profile movies, but none of them, Swanberg included, are people that could be considered A-listers. I don’t know how strictly Parker’s script was adhered to, or what percentage of the actors’ performances were improvised, but either way, it felt like a mumblecore movie, where amateur actors are turning in largely improvised performances. And, I’m not insulting the actors involved by referring to them as amateur, some of them are really quite good in the film, I just mean that each actor seems to bring more of themselves to their respective roles than anything scripted. I could be totally wrong, but that is how it felt to me. There may totally be an audience for Parker’s film in its current form, but for my enjoyment, I feel like there is a really good movie being held hostage by a talented director and his self-indulgent script. Every time I found myself really tense, and anticipatory, I’d be treated with a drawn-out dialogue scene that brought the film to a complete halt, rather than driving it forward to the eventual conclusion. I would still recommend Proxy to fans of “alternative” genre fare, as it does do a lot right, but keep your expectations in-check, and be prepared for a long, frustrating ride.
Proxy will be released this coming Tuesday, 8/12 on DVD & Blu-ray from IFC Midnight/MPI. The picture quality presented on the Blu-ray is really quite impressive. It is clearly shot on HD, rather than film, but it doesn’t look like a Mexican soap opera like most HD output does. It manages to retain that “film” look, despite having not been shot on it. Proxy “looks like a movie” if that makes sense. It doesn’t look like some made-for-TV nonsense. The sound quality is really quite impressive as well. You can purchase the Blu-ray and expect crystal clear clarity on both PQ and AQ. There is also several extras on the disc, including a few behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews and more. If you are a fan of Zack Parker’s Proxy, then you can purchase this Blu-ray with a clear conscious, as it is an excellent exhibition of the film. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t recommend a blind-buy, as I can see how some of you could possibly even hate this film for being as long-winded as it is. However, you can rent it in HD on VOD if you’d like to try before you buy.