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Film Review: The Encounter (2015)

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SYNOPSIS:

When Collin Bastrow is discovered naked, disoriented and alone in the forest he has an unbelievable tale to tell. After his group of friends had gone camping they are terrorized and stalked by extraterrestrial beings. Through Collins tale will the U.S. government be able to get to the bottom of what transpired that evening or will the truth remain only with Collin?

REVIEW:

Directed by: Robert Conway
Starring: Clint James, Owen Conway, Megan Drust, Eliza Kiss, Paulina Vallin, Louie Iaccarino

In 2012 3600 sightings of UFO’s were reported in the United States. In the past three years those numbers have increased to nearly 6000.

The Encounter comes to us from director Robert Conway and is delivered under the persona of a mockumentary/found footage type film. The style is utilized in order to provide a feel of overall authenticity as statics of unidentified flying objects sightings are recited at the opening credits. Much of the bulk of the movie is from a camcorder from film instructor Collin Bastrow much to the often disdain of his accompanying party along the ill-fated camping trip.

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Although I’ve never been much of a fan of the found footage type style of film making I did manage to keep an open mind and for the most part. The majority of The Encounter was surprisingly enjoyable. Director Robert Conway manages to keep the variety of scenes esthetically pleasing and seems to understand his market. We’re not bludgeoned with an abundance of shaky camera shots that ultimately just nauseate and frustrate the viewing audience. We get some back ground, exposition in the lives of aspiring campers Collin (Clint James), Megan Drust (Kimberly), Paulina (Eliza Kiss) and Ryan (Louie Iaccarino. The scenes also vary in between the campers, two hunters and a forest ranger. We get a post action sequence from the U.S. government close to the ending of the movie.

For the most part the acting is above subpar and the characters are one’s we can get behind and find their individual stories believable. The sequences are mashed up and presented in the form of three separate tales. Once taking an interlude from the campers we see a great deal of first person point of view through the eyes of hunter Trevor (Owen Conway) and his stepfather. The third segues are of a video blog from a forest ranger named Alice (Eliza Kiss).

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The scenes with Alice at first seem a little bit stilted and over produced. Her lines seem heavily arbitrary and may lose the attention of some viewers. As each of her scenes progress however we get a glimpse into the very real terror upon her face. The special effects team do an extraordinary job of depicting her inner plight as some most horrific changes begin to transpire before the camera. It’s the personification of gore and unease and most horror fans will be hooked from this moment forward. Upon the conclusion of her scenes it sets up the very real unknown terror that lurks inside the woods.

Getting back to the campers, the scenes in which they interact have some memorable dialogue and they’re cast more than sufficiently for esthetics. Megan Drust in the role of Kimberly is reminiscent of a younger Trish Stratus and is positively breath taking. I can see Drust may have a most brilliant future ahead of her as a scream queen or in any other genre of her choosing. The playful banter that is volleyed between her and Collin amongst her other friends is endearing and its difficult not to live vicariously through their exploits. The hysteria rises quickly as the body count does and we as the viewer never really question why someone is running around with a camcorder while in the eyes of danger.

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The hunting scenes with Trevor (Owen Conway) and step father provide some much needed comedic relief to ease the tension. They cut one another up and rib each other like boys do and it almost excuses the dizzying visuals that are spawned from these sequences.

Each individual sequence is likely enough to base the entire movie on yet it’s interesting to see how each intersects and eventually is interwoven to enhance the plot upon the conclusion.

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Arguably The Encounter may not have been my first choice for movie night but it’s definitely worth a look for fans of alien genre films and/or the found footage style of movie making.

-Two and a half out of five tombstones.

By Dave Gammon

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