From its description, I expected The Bumbry Encounter to be another retelling of the story of Betty and Barney Hill. They were the interracial couple who claimed to have been abducted by aliens in 1961. Their account was documented in the book The Interrupted Journey by John G. Fuller, and filmed as The UFO Incident. While this was the inspiration for the film, it doesn’t follow the actual events.

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Writer/director Jay K. Raja has kept the 1961 setting and used the encounter with aliens as the jumping off point for an examination of racial attitudes. Something strange has happened to Jackie Bumbry (Lauren McFall) and her husband Terry (Skipper Elekwachi). They claim they encountered aliens. But the police are more interested in proving that Jackie’s black eye and torn dress were due to an attack by her “colored” husband. After all, as one of them says, “It’s in their nature”.

The incident with the aliens takes up only a few minutes of The Bumbry Encounter’s 15-minute run time. Surprisingly, the effects are done with miniature sets, not CGI. It makes for a refreshing change from the usual low-end cartoonish effects we see in so many shorts and low budget features.

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The rest of The Bumbry Encounter is the back and forth between Jackie and Doctor Bancroft (Ross Turner, Forgotten Evil). The acting here is excellent and builds an air of tension and unspoken menace. The menace becoming clearer as the doctor’s rational facade starts to slip. The sting at the end may be a little less of a shock than intended given a few recent films, but it still caught me off guard. It ends the film on a chilling and fitting note.

The Bumbary Encounter has been making the rounds of the film festivals, most recently Palm Springs International ShortFest. You can keep updated on the film’s website.

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