Meet Malik Khan, Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”, “Venom”), a former marine who has done over ten tours and has recently been running special missions which is why he hasn’t seen his two young boys for some two years.
Until one day when, out of the blue, Malik turns up and takes Jay, Lucian-River Chauhan (“Heartland (TV)”, “Gabby Duran & The Unsittables (TV)”), and Bobby, Aditya Geddada, on a road trip, at least, that’s what he tells them.
He tells them they’re going on a road trip and there are two rules: one – don’t talk to anyone and two – keep yourselves covered in bug spray. They don’t question it, excited to see their father after all this time.
That is until Jake, who is always sketching, grabs his fathers book from his bag and sees a whole file chocked full of parasites and highlighted text about ‘hosts’ and ‘takeovers’ and ‘aliens’.
When the trio are stopped by a highway patrolman, Malik sees bugs coming out of the officers eyes and takes him down. He tells the boys the truth, parasites have come from outer space, they’re infecting the insects which are, in turn, infecting humans, taking them over or killing them.
The boys say this makes sense, mom had been acting weird recently, throwing up a lot, particularly in the morning, and eating weird combinations of food. We know this means she is pregnant, and this causes Malik to ‘call base’.
That base is Hattie, Octavia Spencer (“Thunder Force”, “Ma”), who it transpires is Malik’s parole officer. She’s been looking after him since he came out of jail. She reminds him that he’s missed his recent psych eval. He replies with something surprising, perhaps.
I’ll stop there before going into further details about Encounter, save giving anything away. What I will say is that it may not come as a surprise to everyone, it wasn’t to us at least.
Encounter is written by Joe Barton (“Giri/Haji (TV)”, “iBoy”) and Michael Pearce (“Beast”, “Gallop (Short)”) who also directs. It’s beautifully shot, creepy as hell with extreme close-ups of parasites entering blood streams at the start, not for the squeamish.
It’s well performed, Riz Ahmed gives a stellar performance, as do the kids, Lucian-River in particular stands-out.
However, we felt it was obvious as to what was actually going on and once that’s dropped, which is pretty early in the movie, all the tension drains away and you’re left with lovely scenery and great performances, but little else.
10th December 2021
THE QUICK SELL
Two brothers embark on a journey with their father, who is trying to protect them from an alien threat.