Proxy (2014)

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It’s a long road to go before “Proxy” ever really gets to the point of the entire narrative, and though director Zack Parker is very good at handling multiple sub-plots, “Proxy” is almost too crowded with them. “Proxy” is a seemingly simple thriller that over complicates itself with twists and turns that don’t really amount to much. It’s not many horror movies that revolve around the very disturbing psychological condition Parker highlights as a means of moving the narrative ahead, but “Proxy” often feels like it’s just jumping from shocking moment to shocking moment without much cogency or complexity. None of the characters are likable or empathetic, thus much of the movie feels cold and listless.

It seems director Parker could well have made his point and maintained his dramatic impact without creating such a sadistic streak that emanates through the narrative. The movie has an almost vicious disregard toward children here, offering three brutally disturbing sequences involving a child or baby. And while it’s intent is to explore the vicious results of psychological illness presented, the opening feels gratuitous and exploitative. It also acts as a cheap shock that’s intended to hook audiences. It leads in to a revelation, but nothing as explosive as Parker alludes toward throughout. Esther Woodhouse, on the verge of giving birth, is attacked on a street corner by a hooded assailant who proceeds to smash her stomach in, effectively murdering her unborn child.

When she survives the incident, she seeks some form of human connection through the tragedy and meets the very helpful and friendly Melanie, whose life has also been drastically altered by the loss of her husband and son. When Esther attempts to touch base with Melanie, she spots her in a store acting strangely, and soon learns that not everything is what it seems with the kind woman and her life in general. Much of “Proxy” is uneven and pretty hazy in where it’s leading. Director Parker plays with audiences by depicting one scene with brutally disturbing violence, and another by the use of our imaginations, and both scenes feel incredibly unnecessary and otherwise pointless.

“Proxy” doesn’t even have a main character or protagonist per se, as it meanders from character to character, and sub-plot to sub-plot, and unfolds in to an odd beast that I had a tough time making heads or tails of. Surely, Munchausen’s is a horrifying mental illness, but director Parker seems to only have a seed of an idea to draw from this and just elicits vicious violence and cruelty that seem like a narrative, when it really isn’t. For what it’s worth, Parker is a fine director and writer, and presents a gem of an idea behind his film. I also really found the climax effective and haunting in its own right, it just doesn’t justify the entirety of “Proxy,” I’m afraid.