Patrick Rea’s ENCLOSURE stars Fiona Dourif and Kevin Ryan as Dana and Charles—a married couple who intend to spend their second anniversary camping in the deep woods. Far be it from this reviewer to shock you, horror fans, but things don’t go as planned. In fact, there are monsters, and Jake Busey, in those woods!
Charles is a former paramedic who’s given up the defibrillator for the guitar. He’s the kind of guy who says things like, “We’re not THAT couple,” when Dana brings up the possibility of having children. He also plans to hit the road with his band after he and Dana return home from their trip; he’s a real catch as they say.
Dana’s pregnant, a fact she’s been keeping from Charles by doing inconspicuous things like suddenly leaping out of his romantic embrace and sprinting to the bathroom while mumbling something about a shower, then pumping up the bathroom jams to cover up her retching. I mean, we’ve all been there, right guys? So their relationship is a complicated one—at least as far as Dana’s concerned.
In the middle of their second night in the woods, a group of unruly hillbilly-types yip and yelp, shoot their guns in the air, and rip past our couple’s tent on their four-wheelers. Charles, ever the chivalrous one, will have nothing of it, but just as he bolts from the tent to give these drunken extras from Duck Dynasty a dressing down, a mysterious monster…or monsters…befall these camouflaged cretins and wipe them out.
Charles retreats back to the tent with the lone survivor—a woodsman named Sean played by the aforementioned Mr. Busey—in tow. You were warned, savage readers: Monsters and Jake Busey!
Sean, who despite a compound leg fracture, still manages to be a smarmy, creepy schmuck, essentially becomes a monster inside the tent, which, if you haven’t guessed by now, is the titular enclosure. While rifling through Dana’s bag, he uncovers the fact that she’s pregnant and wields that knowledge like an ace card up his sleeve. All the while, real monsters maraud the forest outside the tent, waiting for our heroes to make a break for it.
Sean knows more than he’s letting on and soon he lets it slip that Dana’s pregnancy is protecting her from being attacked and thus the tent and its occupants are likewise protected. Surprise, Charles! You’re going to be a daddy! Can our heroes use this knowledge to escape? Or will the monsters with a soft spot for mommies slaughter them all?
One of the things ENCLOSURE gets right is arguably the most important thing: the script by Rea and Michelle Davidson. It results in a svelte, 93-minute movie with essentially three characters and one location, yet it plays dynamically. Dana’s our protagonist, and while the mysterious forest monsters are certainly the movie’s most explicit source of antagonism, ENCLOSURE’s main tension results from Dana’s pregnancy and how it will affect her and Charles’s marriage. The resolution of this tension—which also completes Dana’s arc—is an interesting and unpredictable one, while also bestowing Rea’s movie with a well-structured, fully realized narrative.
Director of photography Harry Lipnick is great, too. Rea likes close-ups and he mostly uses them to good effect. However, Rea’s close-proximity-proclivity notwithstanding, ENCOUNTER requires Lipnick to shoot 80% of the movie in a tent, at night no less, and another 15% in the woods, again, largely at night. The photography still somehow manages to retain a vibrancy and a clarity as well as an impressive depth given the confines of the main set.
The principal cast, consisting of a mere three performers, is rock solid, too. Readers of this site are no doubt familiar with Tom Holland’s best-known bad guy (or bad Good Guy doll as it were?), Chucky, who’s voiced by the prolific and fantastic character actor Brad Dourif. Fiona Dourif is the proverbial apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. Her performance as Dana is subtle and nuanced, yet it successfully carries the movie. Plus, in a way, Dana is Chucky’s daughter and that’s objectively cool.
Kevin Ryan’s portrayal of Charles is also quite good. Charles exhibits a lot of what scientists call douchebaggy traits, yet, Ryan portrays the character as a nice guy who truly loves his wife. It makes for a much more interesting dynamic, especially once Sean enters the picture.
And speaking of Sean, Jake Busey does what Jake Busey does best: He plays Sean as a jerk who makes everyone super uncomfortable. Only, here there’s a modicum of heart fueled by Sean’s tragic past. Busey’s been working steadily for 25 years, most recently as a regular on From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, and his experience brings a real menace to a character who’s both hobbled by injury and outnumbered.
ENCLOSURE’s weaknesses are mostly technical. And, strangely, each flawed aspect simultaneously showcases exemplary facets as well. For example, the score and monster elements of the sound design are effectively menacing and impressively mixed. However, some of the Foley is overwrought and the dialogue is plagued by jarring edits.
The movie’s make-up effects are also a mixed bag. The monsters are genuinely freaky when they’re minimally shot and obscured by trees, tents, and shadows and the like. Also, the monsters’ eyes are amazing…seriously! However, it appears that the bulk of the make-up budget was spent on contact lenses—really good ones, but still. The monsters resemble the inhabitants of King Kong’s Skull Island when they’re shot under the microscope of broad daylight, leaving less to the imagination and a lot to be desired.
If you’re a glass-half-full type, then these dichotomies are checked off in the pros column, but if you’re not, well, then they’re just frustrating.
Patrick Rea’s ENCLOSURE is a solid if not perfect supernatural allegory about motherhood that boasts a well-written script and a few genuinely creepy moments. It’s well worth the effort of a bag of microwaved popcorn and an hour-and-a-half on the couch.
All in all, two and a half little Good Guys cramped up in a tent: