June 20th, Movie 21
I had two choices this morning. I had dropped down to Encounter or Old Henry. I wound up choosing Encounter, that featured Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer, and was directed by Michael Pearce.
Malik (Riz Ahmed), a former Marine suffering from PTSD, showed up in the middle of the night, taking his children, Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby (Aditya Geddada) on a late night road trip. Malik was here to protect them from an alien infestation of little parasites that he claimed had taken control of the boys’ mother and step-father.
Malik was taking the boys across the state toward Nevada and the base where he said scientists were working on ways to prevent the bug-like creatures from taking over people.
When he discovered that the boys’ mother was pregnant, Malik called his probation officer Hattie Hayes (Octavia Spencer) to go check on her. Hattie told Malik that he had missed his last meeting and that he was in trouble. This is the first indication that we had that perhaps the idea of parasitic bugs from space may not necessarily be reality.
I was having some initial issues with the story at first, but this switch in tone and direction worked really well for me. They spent a good chunk of the second act of this movie trying to show that the reality could be either direction.
I worried that the film would make us think one way and then throw a wrench into the story at the end and change everything. I definitely wanted one way and I was afraid that if they made that decision, the film would take anything positive and wreck it. Thankfully, it did not go that way.
However, the ending was a little silly and there were some things done by characters that did not make much sense. While the ending was weaker than I had hoped, it did not damage the remainder of the film.
Riz Ahmed is fantastic in Encounter as he always seems to be. Lucian-River Chauhan is excellent playing opposite Ahmed as Jay. Aditya Geddada had a few moments, but the character of Bobby does some things that did not ingratiate himself to the audience. Octavia Spencer was terribly underused and should have played a bigger role than she did.
I was happy to have included Encounter in the June Swoon because I did enjoy most of this movie. There were some flaws here and there, but the relationship with Malik and his to boys was a standout piece of the film and it kept me wondering exactly what was real and what was not.