‘Encounter’ with Martians or Madness? ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎ | TIFF 2021

We know that some aliens like Reese’s Pieces, but in the British-American science fiction thriller, “Encounter,” the question is: “Do aliens like Pop-tarts?”

Jay (Lucian-Riber Chauhan) assures his younger brother, “Everyone likes Pop-tarts, Bobby.”  Jay and Bobby (Aditya Geddada) have been alerted to an alien invasion by their father, Malik (Riz Ahmed).

Malik sees bright lights and insects like creatures emerging from everything. You might not want to watch this film while you’re eating. I watched while eating salad that I could see, but in the dark, this might make eating more difficult. The bug like creatures multiply at an alarming rate and come out unexpectedly from people, setting up an alarming situation for Malik.

Malik is just the kind of guy who you’d expect as the hero of a science fiction saga. He’s had military experience and has a nervous energy that makes him hyper-alert. Everyone he meets, he has to wonder: “How do I know you’re not an alien?”

No one, of course, believes him–not his ex-wife Piya (Janina Gavanka) nor his social worker Hattie (Octavia Spencer). Only his two young boys, Jay and Bobby believe him. The three go on a desperate road trip across the desert with a soundtrack that includes “Against All Odds.” 

In the end, the aliens won’t be getting Pop-tarts and Malik and his sons will learn something about themselves.

Director Michael Pearce co-wrote this film with Joe Barton and leads us on a scary journey in between madness and Martians or whatever extraterrestrials you might meet out in the Southwestern desert, the kind of place that often used as a location for science fiction films.

“Encounter” made its world premiere at Telluride in September of this year and was one of the films chosen for the Toronto International Film Festival 2021. The film is scheduled to stream in December of this year: limited release on 3 December and streaming on Amazon Prime Video on 10 December. 


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