"STRIKINGLY STYLIZED SET PIECE" UPENDS THE NARRATIVE
The A.V. Club has posted a midyear look at the best films of 2014 so far, dubbing the article "a halftime report in superlatives." For "most jarring mid-film gear change," Mike D'Angelo writes about Zack Parker's Proxy, stating that the "slow-burn thriller about the dark side of motherhood is among the year’s most divisive movies, and a specific scene at its midpoint tends to divide yea-sayers from naysayers. The first half follows a young woman (Alexia Rasmussen) who turns to a support group after she’s viciously attacked while in the late stages of pregnancy, losing the baby as a result. Her subsequent friendship with another grieving mother (Alexa Havins) takes a series of increasingly odd turns, with Parker repeatedly upending assumptions about who these people are and what they want. Then comes the scene: a strikingly stylized set piece, equal parts Brian De Palma and Lars Von Trier, upending the narrative so completely that it takes a while to realize it wasn’t a dream sequence. Not everyone will appreciate Proxy’s abrupt new direction, which shifts focus to a degree meriting comparison to Psycho, but Parker’s willingness to risk failure and alienate viewers heralds an ambition too infrequently seen in contemporary genre fare. He’s the real deal."
Back in April, D'Angelo reviewed Proxy for The Dissolve, writing that Parker "combines a Hitchcockian penchant for disorientation with a Brian De Palma-esque formal bravado, and he’s made the rare film that’s impossible to peg all the way up to its final minutes—a truly unnerving study in multiple pathologies."