What happens when you mix zombies, aliens, lots of cameras, and the rugged mountain woodlands of the Southwest? You get Robert Conway’s The Encounter, coming out on June 2nd for your viewing pleasure. Sure, the ingredients are all there, but does this found-footage sci-fi jaunt in the woods have the scares?
The Encounter is actually four stories told through an hour and a half of footage from various cameras. The axis around which the horror unfolds is the wreckage of a crashed alien craft deep in the Arizona wilderness. After falling from the sky in a dramatic spectacle captured by an aircraft control tower’s camera, the action unfolds as seven people enter its dark radius of malevolence in the desolate sylvan environment.
What starts out as a camping trip for two young couples, a hunting expedition for two friends, and a regular day for a park ranger turns ominous as the influence of the strange craft drives some to madness and others to death. Strange pods spread a virulent ichor that turns its victims into vicious mindless drones. To add to this, the constant threat of the carnivorous aliens makes their escapes all the more terrifying.
Eventually, only one survivor remains, totally unable to relay the truth to the government agency that is assigned to investigate what unfolded during that fateful night on the mountain.
One of the best things about this movie is its effective jump scares and, moreover, Conway has done a great job with The Encounter to create an atmosphere of foreboding dread as the hapless victims make their way through the verdant labyrinth. Great acting by most of the actors helps bring the viewer into the horror like an abductee caught in a tractor beam (One of which does actually appear in the movie).
Unfortunately, there are a few things that somewhat stifle the otherwise fabulous experience of the film. Awkward pacing and cheesy special effects bog down the action and the dialogue feels clumsy and overwrought at times.
But make no mistake, The Encounter is certainly worth watching in a dark room late at night.