A poorly made homage to Spielbergian science fiction, Proximity is as inept as it is laughable, featuring a nonsensical plot and no discernible chemistry between any of its cast.

This is writer-director Eric Demeusy’s debut feature, though he’s an experienced visual effects specialist, and the effects make up the best parts of the film. As enjoyable as it can be visually though, thematically and narratively it is anything but. Instead, it’s a haphazard mess of ideas patched together to make something that is incoherent and far too long. Proximity fails to retain any vestiges of the enjoyment that the first few minutes of the film offer, which are long gone by the time the realisation hits that this is a slow, meandering and derivative journey to nowhere.

Ostensibly the story is about NASA scientist Isaac (Ryan Masson) who discovers, and is abducted by, aliens (here looking a bit like a cross between those alien goo toys that were inexplicably popular in the early 2000s and Groot). Capturing his encounter on video, he becomes obsessed with understanding what happened to him, and uploads the video to YouTube, eventually garnering attention from the mainstream media. Whereas he is largely mocked by the media bigwigs, Isaac finds some solidarity online, and meets Sara (Highdee Kuan) who claims that she too once had a similar experience. Eventually, their interest captures the attention of a secret government agency and the two find themselves in a much bigger situation than they imagined.

In reality, the story is a hodgepodge of sci fi clichés mashed together to attempt to make a coherent tale, but the film fails to invest any time in its characters and the writing is bad enough that it’s far easier to laugh at than it is to be engrossed in. Our cardboard cutout characters bounce along from one environment to the next, making sure to stop off to help the audience to complete their sci-fi bingo cards by going through every possible science fiction touchstone possible. There’s the featureless interrogation rooms, the generic white robots who chase them and have Stormtrooper-esque terrible aim with their laser guns, the Evil Men in Evil Sunglasses who chase them with their Evil Black Cars of Doom. There’s even a stern villain in a suit who is the epitome of a cut-price version of The Matrix‘s Agent Smith.

In other words, everything you could ever want in your exercise in reliving the good old days of science fiction, all with an attempted smattering of Spielbergian grandeur that falls so flat it feels like a bad joke. It all feels like a poor imitation, and the fact that the acting is so bland doesn’t help, though admittedly it is hard for the cast to sell the dud lines they’ve been given.

The film does feel like it lasts a lifetime, and the unintentional hilarity is replaced with thudding boredom. Eventually though, it starts to get progressively more bizarre as it finally makes its way towards a crescendo, finishing with a succession of farcical narrative choices that tip the film back over into total nonsense. It’s a welcome respite from the drudgery of being dragged around location after location pretending to care about what the characters are saying while the world’s worst robots half-heartedly chase after them, but in the end, it really isn’t worth the trouble getting there in the first place.

Dir: Eric Demeusy

Scr: Eric Demeusy, Jason Mitcheltree

Cast: Ryan Masson, Highdee Kuan, Shaw Jones, Don Scribner, Christian Prentice

Prd: Eric Demeusy, Andrea Dondanville, Kyle McIntyre

DOP: Jason Mitcheltree

Music: Jermaine Stegall

Country: United States

Year: 2020

Run time: 119 minutes

Signature Entertainment presents Proximity on Digital HD from May 18th