I sometimes marvel at the marketing of certain movies. Take for instance Proxy, a new film by director Zack Parker, co-written by Parker and Kevin Donner. One look at the Blu-ray artwork, with the blood red saturated image of Alexia Rasmussen and the quote from the LA Times proclaiming Proxy “A worthy successor to Rosemary’s Baby,” and you might assume that this film is a straight up horror film. Furthermore, the back cover images include Rasmussen in a tub of blood, and co-star Alexa Havins with blood splattered on her expressionless face, implying that something dreadful awaits these characters, perhaps even demonic.
Proxy is not a horror film. Instead, it’s a deliberately paced psychological thriller that reminded me more of Hitchcock than Carpenter or Craven. Not only does Parker’s pacing and mood recall Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, but the Newton Brothers score shares some of the melodramatic flourishes of Bernard Hermann’s finer works. That’s not to say that I believe Proxy is on the same level as Vertigo, or any of Hitchcock’s works, but it is an accomplished piece of filmmaking that keeps you guessing until the very end, and throws in enough twists to keep you on your toes throughout the entire film.
The film begins with Rasmussen’s Esther nine months pregnant and seemingly uninterested in being a mother. When she’s brutally attacked in an alley and loses the child, Esther suffers from post traumatic syndrome and seeks help from a support group for grieving parents. There she meets Melanie (Havins), a young widow who lost her husband and child in a drunk driving accident. The two women immediately bond and develop a friendship.
However, the more we get to know both women, the more we learn that both of them are withholding information, both from each other, and from the people they care about in their lives. I could go into all of those secrets and lies, but that would ruin the film for any of you interested in seeing Proxy. Let me just say that I had three or four WTF moments throughout the film, especially when midway through, the point of view of the story switches completely.
For my taste, I felt that Proxy could have been tightened up, possibly cutting 10-15 minutes. There are moments when the camera lingers too long on a door or character’s reaction that I felt weighed the film down. That doesn’t mean I’m right, though. Zack Parker is well respected and admired in the indie community, so obviously, people like his work. I believe that Proxy is definitely worth your time, especially if your in the mood for something dark, twisted and beautifully crafted.
Besides the two lead actresses, the film also stars indie auteur Joe Swanberg and Kristina Klebe, who both deliver fine, nuanced performances. In addition, the cinematography by Jim Timperman helps create a tense, paranoid feeling throughout the course of the film. The Blu-ray comes with 45 minutes of bonus material. Essentially it’s EPK interviews and behind the scenes footage. Interesting commentary, but the production value of this material is very low budget.