Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Fourth Kind


Review by Patrick Hodges

The truth is out there.  Way out there.

A lot of films are adopting a style wherein the movie resembles a documentary, even though it isn’t.  The use of hand-held cameras, interviews and whatnot are supposed to give the story a more real feel.  Such a technique was used masterfully in recent films like District 9 and Paranormal Activity.

The Fourth Kind tried to join those ranks, but if director Olatunde Osunsanmi had been comfortable with that format, this might have been a better film.  And the film starts out that way; Milla Jovovich introduces herself and tells us that she will be playing the role of Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist who, in the early part of this decade, discovered that a lot of people in the remote down of Nome, Alaska had been experiencing terrifying things while they slept.

Then we cut to an actual interview, where we see Osunsanmi chatting with the real Dr. Tyler, a glassy-eyed woman who clearly believes everything she is telling us.  Many of the scenes we see are actual archived footage, shots of the actual people involved (though many of the characters’ names have been changed), and many are “re-creations” of those scenes.  The blanks are filled in with Jovovich’s Tyler delving deeper into the mystery, which begins when three different patients tell her that they have been seeing an eerie, otherwordly owl outside their window at night.

The film does a decent job of ramping up the tension, and creating a palpable air of menace from whatever influence is causing these disturbances.  The title refers to the most extreme level of an encounter with an extra-terrestrial force (the “fourth” being alien abduction), and this is made manifest in the second half of the film.  The film ends with the disclaimer “believe what you want to believe”, like that’s even necessary.

Though the acting wasn’t bad, and the story itself is quite intriguing on paper, I’m not sure I liked the way Osunsanmi presented it.  Documentary-style, fine.  An adaptation or re-creation, fine.  But he went for both, sometimes jumping from the “real” to the “re-created” version several times in one scene, and sometimes showing both on the screen, side-by-side, simultaneously.  It was very distracting and unnecessary.

All in all, The Fourth Kind was not a wholly unenjoyable moviegoing experience.  It just wasn’t that memorable.  My advice:  if creepy based-on-true-events are your thing, rent the Richard Gere thriller The Mothman Prophecies, it was a much better and engaging story with a much more satisfying storyline.

3 / 5 stars

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