Encounter is a very mixed bag; there are a lot of things I loved, but also some key problems that bog it down significantly.
Let’s talk about the good first. I was surprised from the start by how well some of the technical aspects were handled. This is only the second film from director Michael Pearce, and he certainly shows a lot of competence in his directing; I look forward to what he has planned next. The lighting in a lot of scenes makes for some gorgeous shots, there’s some clever camera work, and the sound design and score both add to an already tension-filled atmosphere.
Riz Ahmed gives an emotionally-charged performance as a frantic father, and actually has some pretty heartfelt exchanges with Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada, who play his character’s sons. Octavia Spencer is the other big name on the cast, and while she does a good job with what she’s given, her character is underutilized and pretty much there just to move the plot along quicker.
Which brings me to my headlining issue with Encounter. The writing is… not great. There are twists that happen so early and nonchalantly they don’t even feel like twists, revelations that seem to randomly pop up for characters at strange moments, and some glaring plot-holes. The overall concept isn’t unique, but it’s certainly compelling, and it feels disappointing that it was carried out in the fashion it was.
This was a surprising film, both in some really great and really bad ways. Encounter isn’t bad, per se, but its writing bogs down what could have otherwise been a great under-the-radar watch.
Overall rating: 6/10