The artichoke, which possesses magnetic and mind-altering qualities, soon ejects a slimy, phallic tube, suckling on to Will’s neck. This allows him to miraculously stand again, while having expository flashbacks to his possibly-deceased daughter and very-much-alive wife Jessica (Anna Hutchison). Will gets obsessed with the artichoke. “Why can’t this be a miracle?” he wonders. “Why can’t this be God?” The group eventually brings in local college Professor Westlake (Tom Atkins) to help them figure out what this thing is. In the meantime, a couple of wise-crackin’ government agents are on their trail, taking up valuable screen time with their aimless jabbering (“We’re gonna need more firepower than a SWAT team to save our a***s this time”). As they close in on our hapless protagonists, the artichoke grows and grows, akin to the blob.
“Characters make nonsensical decisions that service the plot rather than make common sense.”
Sigh. Where do I start? The narrative shamelessly steals from films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a slew of Cronenberg films, and yes, even Critters. The ending aims for Annihilation-style transcendence, but it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing. Characters make decisions that service the plot rather than make common sense. Salamoff’s wooden dialogue shouted by the cast, doesn’t help matters. “Healing takes time, Will,” Teresa reminds our hero poignantly. “I’m fine!” Will says at another point, the artichoke penis dangling off his neck. “Yeah, until a baby alien pops out of the back of your neck and tries to eat us!” Marcus, the jokester of the group that he is, snaps back. (Cue laughter.) “I’ve been scared all my life,” Teresa proclaims, “but I’m not gonna keep living in fear.” You go, girl!
With its slapdash editing, poor effects and a central creature that resembles a chopped-up Audrey II from The Little Shop of Horrors, Encounter sadly does little to improve Luke Hemsworth’s filmography. Here’s hoping he (cue groans) encounters a worthy project soon enough.
"…a central creature that resembles a chopped-up Audrey II..."