Reviews: The Encounter

The Encounter doesn't hit Earth until June 2nd, but we've seen it. Here's our review. 

The Movie Sleuth:
Now with more boobs.
Found footage is as common in horror and sci-fi films these days as it is divisive.  When used effectively, it can bring the viewer into the story the way traditional narratives can't do as well.  Other times, when it doesn't serve the story, it can be a bit distracting or even jarring, used to mask shaky camera work or bad acting.  It can even simply be the result of budgetary limitations, since now an aspiring filmmaker need only spend a few hundred dollars on a GoPro rig or even their cell phone and use simple editing software to make a movie.  And somewhere in the middle of all of this falls The Encounter.

The Encounter uses found footage to tell the story of three groups of people spending a night in the woods in northern Arizona: two young couples out camping, a pair of hunters, and a park ranger tasked with investigating something mysterious.  What the ranger finds and how it affects her sets the events of the story into motion, as each group has their own unique, and equally bizarre, encounter over the course of a night.

Like many found footage films, The Encounter is a bit slow to warm up, taking its time while introducing us to each group as they head off into the woods to start their evening.  As events start to unfold the story becomes more intriguing and even a bit tense.  However, the reveals end up leaving quite a bit to be desired, and ends up giving the film a disappointingly amateur look and feel after a promising start.  

"Is that ship a rhinoceros?"
The attempt was obviously a Jaws or Blair Witch-style "less is more" approach, but ultimately fails on account being not only not all that scary almost laughable.  The film is rather odd, even downright gross at times, but it never quite achieves the level of scariness it was aiming for. Fans of found footage films will find a lot of intriguing ideas in The Encounter but a rather disappointing payoff.  It is interesting at times, confusing or even dull at others.  Ultimately, the good in The Encounter is outweighed by the meh.

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-Mike Stec