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Movie review: 'Proxy' a disturbing, horrific and inexplicable thriller



Proxy (opening today) begins with a horrifying opening sequence that challenges you to keep watching. A young mother with presumably no family or close friends, Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) is nearly through her nine-months of pregnancy when on the way home from her doctor, she is knocked over the head by a masked assailant. Unconscious, the attacker continually beats her pregnant belly with a brick before escaping the scene.

Photo courtesy of IFC Films, 2014. Used with permission.

We soon learn that not everything is as it seems. Esther joins group therapy where she meets Melanie (Alexa Havins), who has lost her husband and child to drunk driving. As the movie reveals more about the attack on Esther, it also reveals some stunning secrets that Melanie is keeping. It seems that sanity is not a virtue many people in Proxy possess, as the filmmaker takes us on a disturbing journey deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of madness.

There is probably a tighter, shorter and more effective version of Proxy somewhere beneath the bloated, somewhat talky version that director Zack Parker presents us with. It excels in keeping things interesting with increasingly unexpected plot turns, not that any of it is explained or makes much sense. There is a faint hint that the film is trying to say something about loss, parenting and how ultimately, psychosis is transferred like energy back and forth amongst human beings. It is perhaps conveying an even deeper message that our own pathology is destroying our children and the future of all humanity.

More compelling would have been to watch someone's evolution into such dark places. Instead, everybody we meet in Proxy has already arrived at their place at the table.

Filling out much of the cast with inexperienced, amateur actors, the film just feels uncomfortable. At creating mood and keeping our interest, Proxy succeeds. But its take on humanity just doesn't work very convincingly as horror, because there doesn't seem to be a real human among the several characters entangled in this glorious mind-screw.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Run Time: 2 hours, Not Rated

Starring: Alexia Rasmussen, Alexa Havins, Kristina Klebe, Joe Swanberg

Written by Kevin Donner, Zack Parker

Directed by Zack Parker (Scalene, Quench, Inexchange)

Opens locally on Friday, May 16, 2014 (check for show times).

Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday, on MYTV20 in Detroit.

How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
  • 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time
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