If nothing else, Zack Parker’s Proxy proves that aping the style of Alfred Hitchcock might not work if you don’t have the budget for it. Parker has scenes of one character following another, much like James Stewart tracks Kim Novak in Vertigo. There’s a shift in perspective as the film moves from one protagonist to another, much like the move from Janet Leigh to her sister in Psycho. These referential scenes are set to a rousing Bernard Hermann-esque score and played out patiently, like Parker has all the time in the world. Unfortunately, though it’s a valiant effort to copy the master, Parker doesn’t have the same level of talent at his disposal. His two leads, Alexia Rasmussen and Alexa Havens, are no Jimmy Stewart or Janet Leigh, and the economical digital cinematography of Proxy can’t match Robert Burks’ San Franciscan panoramas.
Of course, Proxy wouldn’t have premiered in the Vanguard section of the Festival if it had been a straight homage to Hitchcock. The women in Parker’s film are not searching for some impersonal MacGuffin, but rather they are dealing with the deaths of their children. Esther (Rasmussen) was attacked and beaten in the street, causing her to lose her unborn child. Through a support group, she meets Melanie (Havins), who acts supportive, but may not have actually lost her son (shades of Fight Club). Parker had an ambitious plan for Proxy– at over 2 hours, it’s definitely longer than most genre films–but his ambition may have been his undoing. At this budget, the actors and the crew are not capable of realising Parker’s vision.
Proxy premiered on Tuesday, but you can catch one last screening tomorrow at the Scotiabank Theatre at 8:00pm.
Alan Jones writes about film for Toronto Standard. You can follow him on Twitter at @alanjonesxxxv.