DARK ENCOUNTER (2019) Reviews and overview

 

‘They watched. They waited. Now they are here.’

Dark Encounter is a 2019 British science-fiction feature film about a missing young girl and the threat of possible alien visitors.

Written and directed by Carl Strathie (Solis), the Goldfinch-Strathie Film production stars Laura Fraser (Tales from the Lodge; I Am Not a Serial Killer), Mel Raido (Broken; The Disappointments Room), Sid Phoenix (Solis; Beyond), Grant Masters (Await Further Instructions), Spike White (The Awakening) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge; The Ghoul; Sightseers; et al), Nicholas Pinnock (Monsters: Dark Continent) and Vincent Regan (Eat Locals; Dementamania).

Plot:

A year after the mysterious disappearance of their eight-year-old daughter, grieving Olivia and Ray return home with friends and family from her memorial service in their small town.

Suddenly, strange lights appear in the nearby forest and everyone is exposed to inexplicable phenomena shaking them all to the core. The origin of these weird incidents seems to be visitors from another world intent on terrorising the family.

However, what they don’t realise is that these visitors will eventually lead them to an unexpectedly dark and disturbing truth – one destined to impact their lives forever…

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“There’s no doubt that Strathie is a competent, if not particularly exciting director who has assembled a good team to work with, but I feel everyone has just bitten off too much with this one. You have to wait a long time for something to happen, and when it does, it’s both silly and in rather poor taste, and no amount of heavenly choirs and soaring strings can disguise that fact.” Dark Eyes of London

“There’s a little bit of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a little bit of Interstellar, and quite a bit of something else in Dark Encounter, a film that takes quite a while to get going but if you liked the concepts behind either of those other two movies then stick with it and you’ll find your time rewarded.” House of Mortal Cinema

“It’s a paranoid, edgy domestic drama built around a terrific, raw performance from Fraser […] The alien intervention is powerfully conveyed, and a refusal to overexplain – are these even aliens or some other manner of non-human being? – makes for unsettling, nerve-stretching trips into the woods.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Beyond the atmosphere, the story is not terribly engaging. This is not the sort of movie that needs to reinvent the wheel, it just needs to move forward in a way that keeps the audience locked in and caring about what will happen next to these characters, while also creating a sense of wonder. Or dread. Something.” More Than One Lesson

“It’s in the film’s final half-hour, following a key revelation detailed through a sequence that resembles the climax of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, that Strathie’s movie morphs from an economical and efficient b-movie thriller to an eye-rollingly affected piece of sub-Shyamalan pseudo-profundity.” The Movie Waffler

“The unhurried nature of the film may not click for some people, but it mostly worked for me. Haunting, unpredictable and intense but with enough drama to give it heart, this is a riveting out-of-this-world sci-fi horror film. Dark Encounter delivers the goods for an hour and a half, and it exceeded my expectations for sure.” Nerdly

“Even if it is presented with luminous visuals and awe-inspiring special effects, this is a harrowing story, exposing the cracks in a family’s tight-knit structure. Some, though, may remain unconvinced by its secular take on a deus ex machina, and by the truly Spielbergian sentimentalism of its ending.” Projected Figures

“It may be that they wanted to make the film a more “commercial” length (although at 97 minutes that seems less likely). Or it might be that they thought stretching these things out would make the film — and particularly those scenes which finally reveal the truth — more “dramatic.” Either way, it slows down far too much. A tighter edit would have made a huge difference.” Rivets on the Poster

“It handles its initial direction in a kind of by-the-numbers way but the journey it takes, despite being a departure feels very smooth. It very carefully weaves its narrative so that the louder, more energetic start gradually slows to something more quiet and subdued. In fact, the film boasts some very impressive scenes that are almost entirely silent which really offer the film a great deal in terms of atmosphere.” Scared Sheepless

 

Release:

Dark Encounter premiered at the 2019 Arrow Video FrightFest in London on 23rd August 2019.

Cast and characters:

Laura Fraser … Olivia
Mel Raido … Ray
Sid Phoenix … Billy
Grant Masters … Kenneth
Spike White … Noah
Alice Lowe … Arlene
Nicholas Pinnock … Sheriff Reese Jordan
Vincent Regan … Morgan
Sean Knopp … Deputy Miles

Technical details:

97 minutes

Working titles:

Transcience and The Encounter