The truth is out there. When Isaac (Ryan Masson), a young NASA JPL scientist encounters an extra-terrestrial, his whole world is turned upside down as he struggles to convince those around him that what he experienced is real in Eric Demeusy’s (visual effects: Stranger Things, Tron Legacy) debut feature, Proximity.
This slow burning sci-fi caters for the young adult fiction crowd but does succeed in certain aspects of narrative building and awe-worthy special effects ensuring that there is something on the table for audiences of all ages to enjoy.
Within the film’s first half, I became effortlessly invested in the lead character’s arc and what his eerie encounter with an alien would mean for the rest of the film. Demeusy makes a stark commentary on internet culture and how as a society we have become so desensitized with the abundance of content available that there are blurred lines as to what we perceive as real and what we consider as a hoax.
The audience is consistently placed in Isaac’s point of view from the get-go, we experience the narrative through his eyes in how he endeavours to prove that he didn’t concoct the whole situation up for attention and internet fame through carefully crafted special effects software. Placing the audience beside Isaac is a confident and beneficial decision as it builds faith in our hero and what he is going through. He then makes contact on an online forum with Sara (Highdee Kuan) a young woman who is believed to have gone through a similar otherworldly experience. Without revealing any major spoilers, when it appears that Isaac’s luck is about to turn around something unfortunate occurs which spirals the film down a whole new and unwelcome trajectory.
What begins as a slow-burning, subtle tale about the existence of extra-terrestrial life becomes a far-fetched, unintentional parody that blends ideas from Star Wars, Tron and Men in Black. Coupled with this, the film takes a monumental tonal shift resulting in a messy and bewildering mythology and a shoehorned, mawkish love story. It spent so much time building its characters before changing gears then racing towards a climax while introducing new characters into the mix on a superficial level, ultimately making Proximity a huge let-down- granted I’m aware I’m not necessarily the target audience.
Proximity is undeniably visually impressive, incorporating high production values and blindingly brilliant special effects. The aliens are presented with an unnerving essence in their appearance allowing us to question if they are friendly creatures or possess sinister motivations. The cinematography by Jason Mitcheltree is breath-taking, as he utilizes the scope of the landscape and surroundings to maximum effect. The dreamy imagery is supported by a sickly-sweet pop soundtrack packed with soothing female vocals and synths to signify an ethereal feel to the film.
Ryan Masson is a strong lead; he plays Isaac with empathy and a sense of wonderment about him. His reactions to what he’s encountered comes across as genuine and believable. The rest of the cast do a good job with the material they’ve had to work with assuring that there isn’t a weak performance amongst them.
The main criticism of Proximity is how its narrative transcends into hammy territory after a strong beginning. It doesn’t culminate in the film its expectations initially set however the performances and visuals does make up for it on the most part.
Proximity is a family friendly extra-terrestrial adventure that challenges what we believe to be real in an accessible and light-hearted approach that frequently hits a sentimental note.
Signature Entertainment presents Proximity on Digital HD from May 18th.