Poor Luke Hemsworth. Known primarily for his role as Ashley Stubbs on HBO’s Westworld, Luke’s cinematic career has been utterly overshadowed by his brothers’, Chris and Liam’s. It fails to ignite once again with Paul Salamoff’s pompous, cheap sci-fi oddity Encounter. There are two kinds of “cheap ” see: one that applies to the budget/production values of the film, and one that’s an esthetic cheapness, wherein the concepts underlying the work are inherently tawdry. Both kinds apply to Salamoff’s featherbrained effort, which takes lousy stabs at existential quandaries but ends up, ahem, encountering its own imbecility.
“The [alien] artichoke, which possesses magnetic and mind-altering qualities… ejects a slimy, phallic tube…”
It doesn’t take long for the film to establish its IQ level. We’re introduced to a bunch of good ol’ country boys – John (Christopher Showerman), Brent (Glenn Keogh) and Marcus (Vincent M. Ward) – in Briar’s Bluff, North Carolina, hangin’ ‘round their pick-up, drinkin’ beer and talkin’ s**t. Then – Holy Pabst Blue Ribbon! – a UFO crashes in a field nearby. They bring back an alien artichoke-looking thing to Brent’s wife Teresa (Cheryl Texiera) and her wheelchair-bound brother Will (Luke Hemsworth). The latter calls dibs on taking the first shift to look after the artichoke, a.k.a. “protect their investment.”