In Amazon Studios’ latest outing, Encounter, Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer unite for a film that may seem like a futuristic sci-fi romp on the surface, but is actually a multigenre mashup that has something to say about how we treat each other and tend to write each other off.

In the film, “a decorated Marine goes on a rescue mission to save his two young sons from a mysterious threat. As their journey takes them in increasingly dangerous directions, the boys will need to leave their childhoods behind.”

Shadow and Act recently spoke to the film’s stars including Ahmed, Spencer, Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada, as well as director/co-writer Michael Pearce.

“For me, it was the relationship between this father and his two sons and how that evolves throughout the film,” said Pearce. “And there was something just really poignant and universal about that, that kind of loss-of-innocence moment that you go through when you’re a kid and you discover that your parent isn’t all-knowing and all-powerful. They’re, in fact, a human being, and that means that they’re flawed and they make mistakes. And sometimes, they need the help of their children to get through a crisis.”

The director also related to what Ahmed’s character Malik’s sons in the film go through as well, stating that he went through something similar when he was the same age as Jay in the film.

“There was some personal resonance,” he explained. “And it also felt very universal when I was telling the story to friends of mine, that everyone had gone through a similar situation as that. So that really intrigued me, and that the film was playing with different genres meant that I could tell a quite personal story but on a very large canvas. I just thought the script was really smart. It starts in sci-fi, and then it expands and evolves and deepens as it goes on. It becomes a richer film as you move forward, and I just hadn’t read anything that had that level of ambition before.”

Octavia Spencer, who plays the parol officer to Ahmed’s Malik, says the Oscar nominee’s attachment drew her in, but she loved how many genre elements were in the film as well.

“I loved that Riz was attached. Then I read it, and first of all, I love that it’s a psychological thriller,” she said. ‘I love the sci-fi elements, I love the dramatic elements because in our life…one day in your life could be a comedy, a drama…something sci-fi because of all the technology that we deal with….so it’s like a slice of life in that way for me. I love that it has all of that going on. But the director so deftly just wove this beautiful story. And at the end of it, I realize that all of our experiences… We come to life with certain experiences. And sometimes, when we experience the same thing, we have different perspectives of what they were or what that experience was. This impacted me because I realized that seeing things through Malik’s eyes, from his perspective, made me know that that’s how we have to conduct ourselves in society. If we walk in another man’s shoes, we see things through their eyes. It allows us to be more empathetic and, hopefully, more compassionate.”

Catch the full interviews below:

Encounter is in select theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime Video now.