THE PLACE. An object raced through the solar system, cutting through Earth’s atmosphere and scattering across the western sky of the United States with a booming boom of sound. THE FOREST, where we assume a celestial body has fallen and where we know many, many insects are living.
Insects that eat each other with their tiny twisted jaws. They are everywhere, insects. Like a mosquito buzzing through the darkness and landing on a human hand where it inserts its trunk into human skin to suck human blood – maybe, but not this time!
From its tiny worm-like probe, it hurls tiny organisms that look like a cross between a pill and a tardigrade through the bloodstream, then disintegrates into millions of tiny curls and must have infected the poor man somehow.
At this point, the entomophobia may feel the urge to unlock:
But they must know that the rest of the film is about two boys and their estranged father. The last one is Malik Khan (Ahmed), whom we meet in a rude motel room. He wakes up, sprays bug spray, breaks the snake wasp. That lives behind the wallpaper (presumably with a bunch of his friends), and then walks out again.
Elsewhere, his son Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan), who may be ten years old. And Bobby (Aditya Gedada) live with their mother Pia (Janina Gavancar) and handsome stepfather Dylan (Misha Collins). There was a time when Pia was bitten in the neck by an unidentified insect. And some blood oozed out, and no one thought about it and shouldn’t think about it unless they saw the opening sequence of the film as we have, so I wonder if she was fated or what.
Malik and his family have been AWOL for about two years. He is an outstanding former Special Forces Marine who has probably done too much touring. And spent some time in military prisons.
Jay wakes up early in the morning to find his father by his side. Malik flashed a flashlight in Jay and Bobby’s eyes to make sure. Can you convince yourself of what? I assume they are not infected. Malik says they have to do a special mission together. But what about the kind man’s mother and stepfather?
Microscopic aliens captured them, Malik said.
So they have to get out of there. And their mission is to do some secret military work for these aliens. They were working with tools on the street in the middle of the night when they stopped.
Malik had a gun on his belt, which led to an altercation with the police. We see the police have something evil in their eyes, leading to a fight. And now Malik and the boys are running away, but from whom? Authority? Good male mother and stepfather? Infectious micro monsters from the moon? THEY DON’T SAY IT.
Encounter is so jumbled up that you’ll want to write a list for/against Rory Gilmore. I’m going to give you a Type A list and chart, and I’m just saying if a film is successful, it will be memorable and exciting, and if not, it will be missed. As a co-author with Joe Barton, Pierce shows great ambition but insufficient focus.
The biggest problem is perspective. I proceed with caution because the film wants us to continue questioning the nature of its reality and beyond what kind of film it is. It’s more subtle than the Shyamalan variant, and it’s a rigged story that makes us think one thing and then pulls the rug under us. The movie starts pretty crazy – bedbugs! – and become more conventional as the process goes on.
Pierce covers a wide variety of thematic feeds: Mental Health and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder;
The infection metaphor of the COVID era; Yada Yada politics from the Trump era. Including paranoid conspiracies and white supremacist groups. Weapons and whether it is appropriate to aim at someone even if it is considered dangerous. The constant debate about the culinary benefits of pop tarts (my opinion: they are rude).
Some of Pierce’s stalwarts wear the original anti-government militia logos from the Three Percenters – some of whom revolted at the US Capitol on January 6 – and you’re pretty happy and not quite capable of machine guns. This was a choice Pierce made; intent remained vague, unsure whether to make a statement or provoke. It’s too dense to be a B film with a sharp satirical comedy that moves in sensation but too outwardly to be taken seriously.
Perhaps Encounter’s way of trying to say so much caused him not to do or say much. Eliminate the question of whether Malik’s paranoia is justified. Beyond the philosophical justifications of city dwellers fearing insects for being hairless and hairless.
Beyond the lack of utilization of talent like Octavia Spencer hired to be the soothing voice amidst the ridiculous and exaggerated pride of male authority – oh my god, THEMEs are everywhere. However.
You move things around, and you can’t help but feel at odds with yourself in the film. With his excellent performance of Ahmed – the father-daughter thing he begins to feel incredibly authentic. And the inspiring visual insight, with the tense and uncomfortable melodrama and his dream/hallucinations of a red herring. He’s everywhere.