A Baby Is Beaten From a Pregnant Woman in Controversial Thriller Film ‘Proxy’ (Exclusive Video)

“I knew I had to hit the audience hard early on,” director Zack Parker tells TheWrap

Zack Parker had largely been known for the slow-burn nature of his films, such as 2011’s “Scalene,” and he wanted to change that perception.

With “Proxy,” he did just that — and then some.

The film, which debuted at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and hits theaters on April 18, begins with a shocking assault. Alexia Rasmussen, playing a lonely pregnant woman named Esther, is brutally assaulted within minutes of the movie’s opening, suffering a brutal beating that carries with it serious consequences both physical and psychological.

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“I knew I had to hit the audience hard early on,” Parker told TheWrap. “I like stories that take their time, easing you into a character and the world they live in. I knew that if I could knock the audience off balance quickly, give them this sense that anything could happen in this film, it would earn me the time to begin building the story. It’s an unspoken promise; stick with me, and something this horrific may just happen again… and it does.”

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The film sends Esther into a support group following the attack, though that isn’t necessarily exactly what it seems. Joe Swanberg and Alexa Havins co-star in the movie, which was not, as Parker said, not as serious on-set as it seems on film. Still, just pantomiming such an attack was difficult for the cast.

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“The actor who is attacking Esther in that scene was apprehensive about hitting her hard,” Parker explained, “but we had this foam brick and she’s wearing about 8 inches of padding. Alexis kept saying, Hit me hard with it, let’s make it work right!’ We built more of the force with the sound design and camera movements.”

Parker hopes to shoot his next film around Chicago either later this year or in early 2015.