‘Encounter’ Review: Riz Ahmed delivers in Michael Pearce’s darkest disaster movie

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Contains spoilers for ‘encounter’

‘Encounter’ is a Riz Ahmed show. It is explosive, volatile, and always highly trauma. His introduction shows his muscular self lying on a bed with creepy crawling animals on the wallpaper trying to invade his dingy motel room. What follows gives the impression that he is preparing to kill a trillion insects, which are actually non-terrestrial microorganisms from space. The way he sprays bug spray is believable to fend off the intruders or, for clarity, parasitic beings who are taking control of the people.

It is believable that from Amazon Prime Video to director Michael Pearce, the disaster film decides to delve into the psyche of Ahmeds Malik Khan, a former decorated marine. The aliens that turned out to have found their way to Earth are nothing more than a product of his ridiculously vivid imagination that leads him to believe that he lives in an infected world. It’s a dirty trick his mind played, but for a man with mental health problems, it’s a believable thing, and Pearce brings it out pretty nicely. It’s almost nailed apart from the sluggish second half, which is that kind of ruin ‘encounter’.

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There is Malik, who snatches his sons Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby (Aditya Geddada) from their mother Piya (Janina Gavankar) and their partner Dylan in the early hours of the morning. Jay, of course, has an aversion to his mother’s newfound love, while Bobby is too young to understand what exactly is going on. When Malik tells his kids that they are on a rescue mission to save the world, there’s no need to understand why his kids didn’t think the story was a threadbare story in the first place. In his defense, Malik is doing what he should, his kids did what they should, but he’s gone off the rails and that is the real gist of the movie.

Pearce ensures that the chemistry between the characters and the tone of the story are right. And as Malik’s secrets are unraveled and Jay realizes it by the minute, the story only gets more exciting. Octavia Spencer, as Malik’s probation officer, plays her role with a lot of grace and sympathy and is perhaps the only person who believes in the “working maniac” who others think he is. In the storyline, Malik takes on an old geezer and a state trooper who thinks they’re alien-obsessed survivors, and that only gets him even more addicted to the law.

In the end, it comes down to being a family drama that has sci-fi spots. The invasion is a shroud, but it forms a key component in the film. ‘Encounter’ lets people do their job perfectly, especially Ahmed. But the stretched climax works against it. We’d finish this with a 2.5 / 5.

“Encounter” can be streamed on Amazon Prime.

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