“Proxy” began playing at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park movie theater here in Houston yesterday.
Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) is shown leaving her OB appointment at the beginning of “Proxy.” She’s two weeks away from delivery and seems miserable about it. As she’s walking to the bus stop, Esther is struck in the back of the head as her assailant strikes her stomach without remorse while Esther is unconscious. Esther loses the baby and spirals into a world of depression because of it.
Esther starts going to a support group for people who have lost loved ones and are victims of terrible crimes. It’s there that Esther connects with a woman named Melanie (Alexa Havins) who claims that her husband and child were killed by a drunk driver. Soon Esther is able to accept what has happened to her while finding comfort through her support group, but unfortunately she’s relied on the wrong people while swerving down the road to recovery.
“Proxy” makes the mistake of making very specific connections amongst its characters and in its storyline yet sprinkles the world its created within its frames of celluloid with plot holes like some sort of crater-loving Johnny Appleseed. The common thread in the film only seems to be insane behavior with little to no explanation.
After Esther loses her baby, you’re introduced to her lesbian lover Anika (Kristina Klebe) who is basically a complete knockoff of Lisbeth Salander from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Anika is covered in tattoos and a complete freak in the bedroom. This is something the film points out on more than one occasion. Anika is incredibly vindictive through and through. She enjoys Esther’s company because of her craziness.
Meanwhile Melanie’s husband Patrick (Joe Swanberg) is not a good father. He’s more infatuated with trying to come off as the “cool dad” than anything else. The Patrick character goes through some really funky stuff in the film. Something tragic happens to him and Melanie that affects them both. Melanie begins edging back into society while Patrick kind of retreats internally and resorts to brooding. The character begins having delusions that mostly revolve around torture. The way they haphazardly leave a shotgun lying around makes you wonder why tragedy didn’t strike them sooner.
If you dig a little and stretch what little substance is there, “Proxy” attempts to say something about people dealing with the grief of losing someone close to them, how the loss affects them, and overcoming what seems like crippling depression. But the film seems to illustrate that everyone under those conditions gives in to wrath and revenge especially when it comes to the Patrick and Anika characters.
But none of the characters feel genuine. None of their actions seem like logical, real-life conclusions. The film is very slow-moving and bogged down from uneventful and long strings of dialogue. While “Proxy” is listed as a horror, it’s not scary. The scariest part is getting through the entire thing. The film’s highlight is a slow-motion shotgun blast sequence in a bathroom, but even that is laughably bad thanks to how thick and jelly-like the blood appears. “Proxy” only seems to illustrate that stupid, insane behavior is spread by proxy and everyone suffers, including the film’s audience, because of it.