Sunday 18 April 2010

Movie Review: Encounter With Danger (2009)

A made-for-TV movie that creaks and groans under the weight of underwhelmed expectations.

Our leading lady is Lori (Shannon Doherty) who is apparently a tenured university professor. It says a lot about this film that the script never bothers to inform us professor in what, and which university. Never mind any information that may actually, say, round-out the one and only main character.

Lori is engaged to Jack (Mark Humphrey), an accounting consultant. Lori tags along with Jack as he goes to a client meeting with a software giant in a Washington State resort community (filming was actually across the border in Maple Ridge and Langley, British Columbia).

Jack promptly disappears without a trace. Most of the rest of the movie revolves around Lori trying to find her missing fiancee, and getting little support from the suddenly creepy locals. She also soon finds herself being followed by men-in-black types.

80 minutes of tedium follow, featuring lots of shots of cars traveling on winding rural roads and a few more scenes at a single location in a town screaming to be labeled "quaint". Lori then cracks the mystery of an Enron-type fudged accounting scandal with a couple of key strokes after she amateurishly breaks into the headquarters of apparently one of the most important software companies in the world. "This doesn't look right", she mumbles, one second after clicking on "annual report".

The movie ends with the police and the FBI emerging out of nowhere on an undefined section of highway to nab the bad guys after a random sprint in the forest. Lori and Jack live happily ever after.

The film is directed by Neill Fearnley from a script by Peter Sullivan -- both are veterans of the made-for-TV world, and on Encounter With Danger both could have been replaced with robots, without any noticeable loss in production quality. Actually, a computer-generated script may have been less unintentionally funny.

As for the acting talent, Shannon Doherty puts in by far the best performance among the cast of deserved unknowns. Take that as a warning.

Encounter With Danger is true to its name: an encounter with dangerously poor film-making, and it's appeal is that it always threatens to become bad enough to be almost funny.

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