When Collin Bastrow is found in the forest, alone and afraid, he has a shocking story to tell. As he struggles to recount the events of the previous night his memories return in a series of horrific flashes of what became of his friends and fiancée. What started as a simple camping trip in the mountains of Northern Arizona quickly descended into an amazing and terrifying story that is truly out of this world. As the sole survivor of this deadly close encounter Collin must try and explain the unexplainable.

 


The Encounter directed by Robert Conway is a perfect example of why most people are weary of or downright hostile towards movies filmed in the found footage style.  The film is more a collection of vignettes or cool moments than it is an actual coherent narrative.  It falls victim to many of the traps that generally plague found footage films and so it becomes more of a chore to watch than an experience.

Encounter follows three separate groups of characters as they embark on a night that will lead them straight into hell as they face a hostile alien force.  The point of view jumps back and forth between several groups and while this can be interesting, it just doesn’t work here.  The most glaring problem is that the film falls victim to one of the most obvious pitfalls that nearly every found footage movie must wrestle with.  Why are the characters filming everything?  For two of the groups this is answered rather satisfactorily, but the characters we follow the longest have absolutely no reason to continue filming which makes for a very unbelievable and tired experience.

We also have all the other issues that haunt found footage films as well.  We don’t know anything about our characters and they don’t get a whole lot of face time in front of the camera before they are in peril and screaming their heads off so you don’t really care if they live or die.  As usual, the camera pans wildly about as we catch glimpses of the action.  When it appears, the alien stuff is effectively unsettling.  Unfortunately we don’t get enough of it, and what we do get is haphazardly thrown together.  We get alien spores, alien mutations and classical big eyed thing gray aliens.  We’ve seen it all before!  The Encounter brings virtually nothing new to the table, warts and all.

The film has all the hallmarks of virtually every found footage film I’ve ever seen.  We have characters muttering into the camera as they go insane.  We have characters crying into the camera about their impending doom.  We have characters running with a camera through the woods shouting for their friends.  While I don’t have any love for the found footage style I always try to start a movie with an open mind but The Encounter wastes that good will almost immediately.

It’s not all bad.  When the action in the film gets going, it IS very exciting.  Characters are mauled, shot and mutated.  The alien effects and creatures in the film are creepy.  Alien spores in the film pulsate and glow which is effective.  The Encounter obviously has a decent budget.  The dialogue between several characters is well written and naturalistic.  The shots of the alien spacecraft is interesting.  Unfortunately none of this is enough to hold your attention.  I started to lose interest several times as the film slid into found footage cliches time and time again.  By the end of the film I was ready for it to be over but even then we get a long protracted epilogue that really had me itching to press the stop button.

I have no doubt Robert Conway is a good writer and director.  But its tough to discern that talent from a tired piece of filmmaking like The Encounter.  The film offers nothing original from beginning to end and the filming technique is designed to hide flaws so I can’t recommend The Encounter in good faith.  Maybe the next found footage film will give us something a little different.

Encounter poster