CERT: PG / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ERIC DEMEUSY / STARRING: RYAN MASSON, HIGHDEE KUAN, CHRISTIAN PRENTICE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
There’s a good reason why visual effects showreels tend to be a bit short: flashy effects (much like firework displays) can only hold your attention for so long. Proximity is a debut feature-length movie by VFX genius Eric Demeusy. He’s responsible for the effects in memorable works such as Tron: Legacy, Pacific Rim and Stranger Things. Unfortunately, his first big movie also lacks a solid plot.
On the face of it, Promixity should be your traditional sort of low-budget sci-fi geek flick. The delightfully dorky-looking Ryan Masson plays Isaac Cypress, a young man who happens to have junior role in NASA. Isaac has a host of problems, and for therapy, he wanders around remote locations with a vintage VHS camcorder. On one of these jaunts he stumbles across an alien. A grey one, of course, you can’t have an un-original abduction movie without a grey alien. The movie then proceeds with a sort of checklist of abduction movie tropes. No one believes Isaac, there’s a shadowy government organisation, a love interest, psychic powers, some good guy scientists looking for the truth and so on.
Much of these moments serve to deliver us to the next VFX piece, and these a brilliantly directed, well timed and look amazing. We then have to slog through more tired dialogue and poorly thought out characterisation. Kudos to actor Highdee Kuan, who is completely wasted in her role; she could have been easily replaced by a sexy lamp and it wouldn’t have changed the story one bit. Despite that, she still makes the most of her part. The casting in general is very good and the soundtrack is strong, though it doesn’t always match up with the movie.
The problem is the story itself. It’s too long, it’s unoriginal and it features story notes that never fail to irritate. Proximity is the sort of story that you get when someone who hasn’t delved deeply enough into the world of sci-fi but thinks they have. It’s a real shame; there’s a lot of talent involved in this feature. It goes to prove that story is truly king and if you get that wrong, everything else falls apart. Very disappointing.