Family road movie and sci-fi conspiracy merge in this subtle psychological drama from Beast director Michael Pearce
Otherworldly science fiction meets down-to-earth psychological realism in director and co-writer Michael Pearce’s impressive follow-up to 2017’s brilliant Beast. Boasting yet another standout performance by Riz Ahmed, the nuances of which are superbly amplified by Jed Kurzel’s slowly mutating score, this is a genre-hopping affair, balanced between tangible personal experience and growing paranoia, an affecting meld of inner and outer worlds in which family stresses and extraterrestrial spectres collide.
Like Nic Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, to which this owes a tonal debt, Encounter opens with images of objects plummeting through the atmosphere toward our planet’s surface. From here we move to Blue Velvet-style closeups of insects, vividly illustrating alien microbes entering the ecosystem. Then we’re in Apocalypse Now territory, as Ahmed’s Malik Khan awakens in his hotel room. “This violence is endemic,” proclaims TV news coverage of a plague of rioting. “It’s like a disease that’s infecting a growing area.”
In cinemas now and on Amazon Prime Video from 10 December