Directed by Eric Demeusy.
Starring Ryan Massey, Highdee Kuam, Christian Prentice.
Science Fiction, U.S. 115 minutes, certificate PG


On Digital HD from May 18th


It is always a dicey proposition for the viewer when a special effects artist makes the move to directing. For every SILENT RUNNING from Doug Trumbull there is a Brothers Strause with an ALIENS VS PREDATORS: REQUIEM on the far end of the scale when it comes to quality. Coming from a background in digital compositing and art that includes TRON LEGACY and GAME OF THRONES, Eric Demeusy aims for the golden age of Spielbergian golden age of sci-fi cinema with his debut PROXIMITY. Unfortunately this self scripted tale of ufology signals that he should really stick to the day job.


Kicking off in 1979 with a logger being abducted by a spinning UFO we then spring forward to the present day. From here we follow young scientist Isaac, Ryann Masson, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Encouraged by his therapist to record his thoughts on video, Isaac is doing so while out hiking. However when what appears to be a gigantic meteor strikes nearby Isaac comes across an alien and soon finds himself abducted. Upon his return he finds himself with a vaguely written power of some kind and no memory of his abduction. Despite his video proof Isaac soon becomes a figure of ridicule by the media only to find himself on the run from a shadowy agency who are interested in uncovering what happened during his abduction.


What follows is a meandering odyssey that is as poorly paced as it is scripted. Seemingly important characters are introduced in the early stages of the film who then disappear from the story whilst others pop in with no warning leading Isaac, and the viewer, down further narrative dead ends.  Its shallow characterisation is mirrored by its naive storytelling; this is a film in which Isaac is ridiculed by a baffled media for filming himself and saying what is on his mind; the notion of what the majority of what social media is used for is never once mentioned or alluded to.


What could have been a brisk exercise in throwback sci-fi storytelling is stretched out to two hours of repetitive wandering from one location to another. Isaac’s journey of self discovery from Los Angeles to Costa Rica to a Canadian forest is punctuated with so much wandering that the viewer's patience is tested to breaking point. At times it feels like these scenes are only there to provide visual backdrops for the ubiquitous synth pop songs that pop up at regular intervals, sitting uneasily alongside the overblown orchestral score that fills the gaps in between.


There are nice visual nods that pop up among the cliches of men in black wearing sunglasses. The blank faced androids in white outfits giving pursuit on motorcycle recall the faceless automatons of George Lucas’s THX1138 and an affinity and insistence of analogue technology with all its buttons and dials is a nice touch in this age of prevalent touch screens.


Sadly the film does nothing interesting with the vast and shadowy field of UFOlogy. Instead it opts for a quasi-mystical revelation that reframes the film as less of a science-fiction one and more of the Evangelical Christian type that play so well with their audience in America. It is an unintentionally amusing story beat that shows that some special effects artists should just maybe stay away from the script writing software and stick to the VFX type.


Iain MacLeod.


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