dark encounter | carl strathie | laura fraser | mel raido | sid phoenix | alien | aliens | history | mystery | sci-fi | thriller | united kingdom | grant masters | spike white | alice lowe | nicholas pinnock | vincent regan | bridget doherty | sean knopp | kate coogan
Film: Dark Encounter
Director: Carl Strathie
Writer: Carl Strathie
Starring: Laura Fraser, Mel Raido and Sid Phoenix
This is a movie I got turned on to thanks to podcasts. It went on a list of movies to check out and during January, I like to do a segment on Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast where I assign all those movies on a list a number and let a number randomizer decide what I watch. This number popped up. The synopsis here is eight-year-old Maisie (Bridget Doherty) went missing in 1982 and a memorial is held for her family a year later. That evening, strange lights and sounds are seen in the woods outside – and odd things start to happen.
We start this movie off seeing the stars above woods. There is an odd light coming from them as well. The movie then shifts to a house. We see a picture frame that is broken and the water in the sink is running. A couple then comes home. They are married with Olivia (Laura Fraser) and Ray Anderson (Mel Raido). The front door is open and they call out to their daughter, Maisie. They soon learn that she isn’t there and panic sets in. A search begins.
The movie then shifts one year into the future. Maisie’s brother is putting up new fliers saying that she is still lost and they’re looking for her. His name is Noah (Spike White). We shift back to the house as a group arrives after a memorial for Maisie. Olivia, Ray and their son Noah are among them. There is also Ray’s brothers Billy (Sid Phoenix) and Morgan (Vincent Regan). Olivia’s sister is also there, Arlene (Alice Lowe) and her husband who is a deputy, Kenneth Burroughs (Grant Masters). Things aren’t good in this household. Ray is short with Noah and even Billy. He is also sleeping on the couch. Maisie’s disappearance is still being felt.
Things all take a turn that night. Ray goes out on to the porch and experiences something odd. There are lights in the woods and something flies over head. He doesn’t understand what it is and thinks it is some local boys messing around. He decides to go out there to put an end to it. The men inside don’t think it is a good idea. It is decided that Billy, Noah, Morgan and Kenneth are coming with him.
They arrive in the woods and have an experience with something they cannot explain. The rest of the family at the house also have an encounter of their own. It makes Noah wonder if what is behind this could explain what happened to Maisie.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap for this movie. Now I knew coming in that this movie was dealing with aliens. That could be a spoiler, but it is something that gets introduced early into the movie. I’ll be honest, this is a sub-genre of movies that interests me. Personally, I don’t think that aliens have come to Earth like this. I know that the government in the beginning of the pandemic revealed that there is documented proof that extraterrestrial life has come to Earth. The thought of being abducted is a terrifying one. There aren’t a lot of great movies that deal with this, so I’m intrigued to check out movies that feature it to fill that void.
To delve deeper into this, it is strategic to have this take place in the early 1980s. It isn’t too in your face with it. There is the television, a record player and the house the movie takes place looks like it is dated with its furnishings. I’m guessing part of the reason for it being set during this time period is to not have cell phones. With a lot of movies and television shows putting their shows back in this period, I’d give credit that this one works.
Now I want to circle back to the crux of the movie with this family dealing with aliens. It starts by splitting them up and having them in the woods. I think what we see is good. There is a lot with lights and people going into trances. We also have people disappearing and those that are still here trying to figure out what is happening. It is also affecting the people in the house as I said. Everyone that is still around converge back at the big house where the attack continues. The atmosphere it sets up for this was good. I thought it was creepy and kept my attention to wonder what would happen next.
The last thing for the story that I want to go into is that I don’t love the resolution for the movie. I’m glad that we get the answer to what happened to Maisie. It is interesting what the reveal for this is though. I will give credit that it is something that is a bit different to be honest. I do like the idea that humanity could be worse than this threat that is not of this world. It is something that we see quite often though. Despite not loving it, it does work as to what the aliens plan was here. They might not necessarily be the villains that we think they are.
That should be enough there, so I will now go to the acting for this. I was shocked to see that this stars Fraser. She isn’t a big actress, but she is someone that I’ve seen in a handful of things. I thought she was good as our mother here. Another one was Lowe. She is a British actor so seeing her in this was different. It does make sense seeing that this is from the United Kingdom. Her accent is a bit too thick though to come off as someone from the hills of Pennsylvania. I did have an issue with Raido as well. He comes off wooden at times when he is trying to convey emotions. Aside from that, Phoenix, Masters, White and Regan were all solid as the rest of the family. I did like Nicholas Pinnock as Sheriff Reese Jordan and Doherty in her minor role as Maisie. The acting is decent enough still.
Then the last things to go into would be the effects, cinematography and soundtrack. For the former, I’d say that the practical effects are limited, but what we get are fine. There is CGI which can be hit or miss. There were some things with birds and seeing an alien. There were some slight issues, but nothing to ruin this. The cinematography is good though. I will give credit there. We get some angles where they are using mirrors that I liked. There are some beautiful establishing shots as well. Other than that, I thought the soundtrack was solid enough. The sound design does help with the atmosphere and make some scenes creepy.
So then in conclusion, this is a solid movie. I came in having an idea what this movie was about, but I’ll be honest, it does go in a direction I wasn’t necessarily expecting. We have a depressing concept that is made worse. What they do in the end isn’t my favorite direction, but I will still give credit here. The acting has some hiccups. Though, it is solid enough to bring these characters to life. Much of the same for the effects. The practical ones are good while there are some minor issues with the CGI. The soundtrack is fine and the sound design does add to the atmosphere. For me, I’d say this is an above average movie. This is one that I’d say if you’re into the concept, give this one a viewing. This would go for horror or non-horror fans alike.
My Rating: 7 out of 10