April 18, 2014
Kevin Donner and Zack Parker
Joe Swanberg as: Patrick Michaels
Alexa Havins as: Melanie Michaels
Kristina Klebe as: Anika Baron
Alexia Rasmussen as: Esther Woodhouse
As a very pregnant Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) leaves her regular OB/GYN check-up, she is brutally and suddenly attacked in an alley by a hooded assailant who knocks her out and beats her pregnant belly, all with a brick. We soon learn that she is a lonely and withdrawn woman but then she goes to a female victim support group. It is here that she meets the lively and friendly Melanie (Alexa Havins) and the two become friends. In her, Esther finds someone she can open up to and trust, but as the two become closer friends, the friendship turns dangerous, as dark realities and personalities are revealed.
To reveal any more of the plot of Proxy would be to ruin much of the surprises that the film contains. Much of its appeal has to do with not knowing what exactly is going to happen next, and then being utterly and completely shocked when it does occur. This is due to the amazing script by Kevin Donner and Zack Parker, who also directed. It is one of the smartest and best written movies to come out in ages. There are so many great twists and turns that it just has you continuously saying or thinking to yourself, “Holy shit, I was not expecting that!”
Proxy sets itself up as a true holy shit-fest from the moment that Esther gets brutally attacked all the way to its wild finale. Getting back to the scene where Esther is attacked; it’s a moment that delivers a gut punch that will make even the most jaded viewer drop their jaw. The characters are richly and complexly written, to the point where there are no clear heroes or villains as the movie delves into shades of gray never clear black and white. This is what makes the film so involving and beyond the usual throwaway crap that we unfortunately see so very often in the horror genre.
The performances from the cast are rich and lively. Alexia Rasmussen as Esther is both sympathetic and clearly disturbed. Her beautiful eyes convey so very much depth and emotion from scene to scene. Alexa Havins has Melanie delivers a role that runs the gauntlet of so many different emotions. It’s a difficult role to play; one that thanks to her great talent she does to perfection. Kristina (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) Klebe’s character of Anika actually adds a little bit of humor to a movie that doesn’t have much of it. Her character is certainly the most fun one, if one is to even say that there could even be a such thing as a fun character, here. Finally, Joe (V/H/S/) Swanberg as Patrick also gives us a great performance of someone who is mentally cracking, and we are kind of sympathetic towards, are afraid of, and don’t necessarily like.
Parker’s directing of the movie helps to always looks great. It’s stylish with some scenes and the composition of the shots being beautiful. A particularly artful example of this is his use of slow-motion shots that is captured at its particular best in the blood spattering gunshot homicide. The fact that there is little to no sound effects whatsoever, in this scene, adds to its drawn-out intensity and its aesthetic, if gruesome beauty. And, speaking of gore, it certainly has shocking moments, but yet little is actually shown. Much of it is off camera, but yet is in no way less horrific.
Despite having nudity from the lovely Rasmussen, it’s never presented in a sexy manner. In fact, these scenes come off as always tragic, disturbing and, almost as if we were being voyeuristic and looking at her at her most vulnerable moments. Hence, we as an audience feel almost ashamed and dirty for looking at her. Even the lesbian sex and the latter masturbation scene involving Klebe comes off as cold, distant, weird, and certainly creepy. Even though she herself is a stunner and looks sexy as the tough, tattooed lesbian lover.
One of the few real complaints with Proxy is the pacing. Some scenes tend to drag on a bit and the movie itself feels a little bit overlong. Perhaps if it had lost 10 to 15 minutes it would have eased this problem. Also, the focus of the story shifting from one character to another takes a little getting used to. The transition into the second half of the film and the change of focus of main characters is a little confusing. Once the abrupt transitions are done, however, the film again becomes completely captivating.
Proxy ends on an edge of your seat with an extremely intense climax that heads into a great and surprising ending. It puts the final stamp on a film that just never fails to catch the audience off guard. It is the smartest and most original, as well as shocking horror films thats been seen in a very, very long time. It’s disturbing, gets under your skin, will take you aback, and never seizes to affect you and leave you aghast. It is very rare, at this point in my life, that any movie manages to affect me the way this one has; so kudos to it. And in the end, because of all of this Proxy gets my very early vote for script of the year. This is one you simply need to see and cannot miss.