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Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/12/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/19/2014
As someone who's seen a million movies (Note: All data or numbers provided on DVDSleuth.com are approximate.), I'm very jaded and hard to impress. As with many movie fans, I'm waiting for a movie to do something different and as Tom Atkins character famously says in the overratedNight of the Creeps, "Thrill me!". So, when a film comes along that causes me to sit up and take notice, it's worth discussing. The opening of Proxy certainly got my attention, but it didn't prepare for the odd journey which I was about to begin.
The opening of Proxy introduces us to Esther Woodhouse (Alexia Rasmussen), a very pregnant young woman who is visiting her doctor for a checkup. As she leaves the office, Esther is brutally attacked. She awakens in the hospital to learn that she has lost the baby. Shaken and confused, Esther visits a grief support group where she meets Melanie (Alexa Havins), a woman whose husband and son were killed. Esther is a naturally shy and withdrawn person, but she feels comfortable talking to Melanie.
If it felt as if that synopsis suddenly stopped, that's because it had to. It's at this point that Writer/Director Zack Parker, along with Co-writer Kevin Donner, take us down the rabbit hole and Proxy becomes something completely unexpected and unpredictable. To say anything more about the story would be to ruin it for the potential viewer, but I can say this: As the movie progresses, it is revealed that everyone involved here has some serious personality issues. I can't think of another movie in recent history that has an "onion" effect like Proxy. Each scene peels away another layer on the characters and just when we thought we'd seen the height of depravity, something even more shocking happens. In the world of this movie, everyone is hiding multiple secrets, everyone leads a double life, and everyone has a complete lack of respect for life and death.
Given all of this, Parker has created a very challenging film. The tone of the movie will frustrate some viewers. The film is very casually paced and the two hour running time means that many things are stretched out. Characters speak slowly and pause a lot while talking in a very David Lynchian-way. This is juxtaposed with the fact that every few minutes, we are treated to another earth-shaking event which is presented in a very matter of fact way. This is not melodrama. The music doesn't swell and the actors don't go over the top. This is the sort of film where a major bomb will be dropped and you think, "Wait, did that just happen?" Some may also find Proxy to simply be exhausting. In the end, there are no redeeming characters here and the film is simply unrelenting in it's constant unmasking of the crazed people involved in the story. But, is that a bad thing?
For some reason, probably because they didn't know what else to do, Proxy is being marketed as a horror film, but it isn't. Again, the opening sequence is certainly horrific and one of the more shocking things which I've seen in a film in while, but that doesn't make this a horror film. The advertisements feature a picture of a fetus, which would lead one to believe that the film falls into the "killer baby" sub-genre, but it doesn't. (And having Esther's last name be Woodhouse is clearly a nod to Rosemary's Baby.) In reality, this movie plays like the soap opera from hell, as we are taken inside the private lives of a group of characters, where we learn that everyone is broken and dangerous. Proxy is one of those movies which I never want to see again, but I'll never forget the journey on which it took me.
Proxy convinced me to never trust anyone on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of IFC Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 17 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look nice and natural and the image is never overly dark or bright. (Given all the weird goings on here, Parker has shot the film in a very natural style.) The level of detail is good, as we can make out textures on objects and the depth is nice, specifically in exterior shots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a very quiet film, so when key scenes occur, the audio effects do arrive. A certain bathroom scene brings in the surround sound speakers for the musical cue and we get good stereo effects when the characters are in the park.
The Proxy Blu-ray Disc contains a plethora of extra features. "Behind the Scenes" (31 minutes) is a detailed account of the film, which features a great deal of comments from the creative team and the cast. This contains a wealth of on-set footage and a discussion of the film's story and themes. The piece also examines the special effects makeup and the film's score. There are four brief "On Set" interviews which run about a minute a piece with Alexia Rasmussen, Kristina Klebe, Alexa Havins, and Joe Swanberg. We also get "Extended Interviews" with this quartet, as well as an extended look at "The Music of Proxy" (6 minutes). Rasmussen and Havins are further profiled in "'The Support Group' Scene" (1 minute) and "An Actor Prepares" (2 minutes) respectively. "Behind the VFX" (3 minutes) looks at the very subtle visual effects of the film. "The Phantom Set" (5 minutes) shows the team working the bathroom set. The final extra is the TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long