Proximity (2020) Movie Review: Comes in Proximity of Past Alien-Abduction Films

This science fiction story of alien abduction by Emmy-winner Eric Demeusy (Stranger ThingsGame of ThronesTron: Legacy), which lands today on VOD and digital platforms, contains elements of some classic films of the 1970s and ’80s including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and War Games. I choose to name these films since the lead character in Proximity, Isaac (Ryan Masson), is a composite of Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) and David (Mathew Broderick), with some DJ Qualls (from many roles) sprinkled in. The difference is that we liked Roy and David. Writer/director Eric Demeusy gives us little reason to like or even care about Isaac. His boss and coworkers at NASA JPL don’t even seem to care when he doesn’t show up at work for several days. Isaac is clearly looking for more than aliens, but a connection with a coworker is established early in our story, so the obtuse reaction to his absence makes little sense. We finally get some character development and reason to care about all our characters in the final 30 minutes of this 1 hour and 55 minute outing, but by then, it’s too little too late.

Isaac goes missing because he is abducted by aliens. When he returns, he does little to communicate his ordeal to anyone, instead choosing to post a video of his capture by aliens (that look like every alien from the ’70s and ’80s) on YouTube. The video somehow manages to garner more attention than the multiple public sightings of meteors, which we are led to believe are aliens.

There is much in the disjointed first 30 minutes of this film that is confusing and distracting. The music by Jermaine Stegall is near the top of the list as he desperately attempts to add energy and excitement where there is none. The fromage factor is quite strong in many of the songs. As I’ve alluded to, this film has an ’80s feel to it, and the music is no exception. Though the film is set in the present, it belongs in the ’80s. This isn’t necessary a bad thing, but the failure to embrace the nostalgic aspects is distracting.

Recommendation: Proximity is in proximity to alien abduction films that we have enjoyed in the past. It is filled with strong performances though many of the characters seem unnecessary and have muddled motivation. We want to like and root for Isaac and the supporting characters, but the storytellers don’t make it easy. I wanted to refer to the supporting characters as friends of Isaac, but I couldn’t, and that is only one frustrating aspect here. The characters and the relationships are simply developed too late in the story. The motivation of the aliens is an interesting twist that is also revealed late in the story and deserved more exploration.

Proximity fails on many levels, but a second viewing may allow you to better appreciate the effort.

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