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ENCOUNTER: An emotional thriller that shuffles the deck every time that you think you’ve solved it

Amazon Prime

Directed by Michael Pearce

Stars: Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Lucian-River Mirage Chauhan, Rory Cochran, and Aditya Geddada

Encounter may be one of the more unexpected films of the 2021 calendar year. I went into with the expectations of some sort of Sci-Fi film where a father saves his sons from the impending doom of earth. While on the surface, Encounter seems to follow the Sci-Fi beats to a tee, underneath that is a much larger tragedy that expands far past the horrors of a microorganism invasion. Michael Pearce does his best to convey awareness for the troubles of ptsd, mental disorders, and the lack of support that individuals that suffer from these conditions experience.

Two brothers embark on a journey with their father, who is trying to protect them from an alien threat.

Director Michael Pearce keeps the viewers on their toes from start to finish. Every single time you feel that you have an understanding of what is happening to Malik Khan, and this supposed threat to mankind, then Pearce shuffles the deck once again. Much like our leads, we’re never fully able to grasp between what is reality, and what is fiction, the lines between the two blurring more and more throughout the first half. By the time its unveiled the reality of the situation, the audience is left stunned and a larger emotional stake is planted for our final act.

The film tackles some pretty heavy subject manner within its final act. Though the portrayal of ptsd, and mental disorders may not work for everyone, it’s clear that Pearce had the intention of bringing awareness to the way society treats those that suffer from these conditions. He magnifies the way that these individuals lack a support system, and just how much having people in ones corner can help someone through the struggles that they go through. Even if Pearce’s portrayal doesn’t work for the viewer on a personal level, one cannot deny that Pearce has a clear cut message that the Justice system seems to forget that these people, are people, and the errors they make are not of their own doing but because of what they are suffering through. That they can love, and cherish, their loved ones much like anyone can and that they’re not monsters like the system tries to paint them as. That all they need is that one person within, that understands them, and stands by them throughout.

The acting is solid throughout, Riz Ahmed once again fresh off his Academy nominated performance, brings so much heart and holds the viewer in his grasp. The sheer range of emotions that he carries as Malik, a clearly caring father that doesn’t fully comprehend what is happening to him carries so much weight, as he disappears fully into the role. Octavia Spencer is incredible as Hattie, the one person that fully understands Malik, Spencer’s skills are vastly known by now and she always has a way of letting the viewer into her heart through the way she shares glances and looks at characters and things. The child actors were fine, Lucian-River Mirage Chauhan does a fair enough job as the elder son and splits the screen with his on-screen father Riz more than his fellow co-star, and he does a solid job of bouncing the emotion back and forth.

In the end, even though the middle of Encounter seems to dip off and lose the viewer. It’s made up for with a strong start, and finish, one that many viewers can appreciate for the messaging that is being told. It’s out now on Amazon Prime in Canada, so feel free to add it to your streaming list now.


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