Produced by Eric Demeusy,
Andrea Dondanville, Kyle McIntyre
Written and Directed by Eric Demeusy
Starring Ryan Masson, Highdee Kuan,
Shaw Jones, Christian Prentice, Don Scribner
Fitfully entertaining ode to 80s sci-fi starts off with a bang.
A lumberjack is driving through the woods behind his friend’s pickup truck. Suddenly the truck is lifted into the air and then crashes back down to earth.
The man runs out of his truck to help his friend and is promptly abducted by aliens.
Cut to brief but fun throwback opening credits, complete with bombastic score.
We’re then treated to one of many pop tunes in the film, as our main protagonist, Isaac, a NASA JPL scientist in Pasadena, makes his way to work.
He and his colleagues are looking for intelligent life beyond the stars and, wouldn’t you know it? Isaac is himself soon abducted (with a pretty cool alien reveal).
Isaac was able to record the alien and tries to let the world know.
However, a snotty TV reporter does her best to humiliate him on the air and trolls call him out as a joke.
Don’t want to give away too much, but sinister forces do believe his story, and soon he, a pretty fellow abductee and a mysterious hacker named Zed are on the run.
Writer/director Eric Demeusy worked in the visual effects department on Game of Thrones and Tron: Legacy, and the effects in this film are solid. The alien designs aren’t especially fresh, but that’s just fine and they’re executed well.
The acting is also mostly solid. Ryan Masson does a nice job balancing nervous nerd with wannabe hero, and Christian Prentice is fun as the cliched but sturdy “quirky hacker” character.
There is some decent comic relief, especially in the second half, and the action scenes get the job done.
The film wears its references on its sleeve to mostly enjoyable effect. Close Encounters (of course), Star Wars, WarGames, THX 1138, even the original Tron were obvious influences.
At its best, Proximity feels like a second-tier amalgam of those beloved films, and I had no problem with that.
I DID have a problem with the film’s slight overlength. At 119 minutes, it could have used a trim, especially in the first half.
Also, and this is a MINOR SPOILER ALERT, there is an out-of-nowhere religious aspect to the film introduced way late in the game. It’s brought up, contemplated, and then kinda dropped to make room for the action climax (which is very well-handled).
I’m not religious but don’t have an aversion to a film – or portion of a film – dealing with a religious subject. I’m an admirer of Aronofsky’s Noah, and William Peter Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration is one of my all-time favorite films, to cite two examples.
But in Proximity, this plot point felt utterly shoehorned into the film. Perhaps those with a more religious bent will appreciate it more than me.
Overall, this is a very mild recommendation. Still, I was impressed with this messy, odd, ambitious film, even when it wasn’t entirely successful.