Film Review – The Fourth Kind
The Fourth Kind opens with two lies. Milla Jovovich (playing herself) says that every scene in the film is supported by actual archival footage and that what we are about to see is very disturbing. I wouldn’t care about the first lie if the movie was actually suspenseful, but unfortunately it’s full of lies and devoid of scares.
I say unfortunately because I’m a big fan of movies focusing on the paranormal and cryptozoology. If a movie has Bigfoot or aliens in it, I’m there. When I first saw the trailers for The Fourth Kind (opening November 6th) I became very excited because not only was it a suspense movie in the vein of Paranormal Activity (a recent favorite of mine) but because it dealt with aliens. As far as I could remember, this would be the first alien abduction movie to be in theaters since Fire in the Sky back in 1993.
The movie purports to show actual footage taken by a psychologist named Dr. Abigail Tyler intercut with reenactments where Tyler is played by Milla Jovovich. Even if the archival footage had been real (which it isn’t), the movie would’ve suffered from the same maladies it does now. Namely, as soon as something suspenseful begins to happen in the archival footage the film then cuts to the reenactment and back again. The filmmakers should have decided to make either an archival footage mockumentary or a straight forward alien abduction flick. By haphazardly mixing the two, it accomplishes nothing and ruins any tension that it sets out to build.
Even if the movie wasn’t so schizophrenic in style, it would still have a terrible script to deal with. There are good actors at work here, but they can’t make these unbelievable characters and at times horrid dialog work for more than a couple of minutes. The worst offender is the Sheriff character played by Will Patton. In a movie where space aliens take people away in UFOs, his insane police officer is the most unbelievable thing. Here is an officer that not only jumps to conclusions with no evidence, he also physically assaults and threatens witnesses instead of properly questioning him. Every time he showed up onscreen the movie turned into a farce about the most ridiculous cop to grace the silver screen.
The script also seems to not think that the alien aspect of the movie is interesting enough so it throws a bunch of familial drama into it. It’s not a bad thing to have other things going on to help build your characters, in fact that’s something you want from all movies. In The Fourth Kind however we get go nowhere subplots involving Dr. Tyler’s family. She spends the whole movie trying to solve the mystery of who killed her husband, but when it’s revealed it makes no sense and has nothing to do with the main plot of the movie. Since the murder her son hates her and her daughter is blind, alright I can deal with that, but only if it’s presented in a realistic way. The son hates his mother so much that I thought they were trying to insinuate that she killed her husband and the son knew. This kid’s actions make about as much sense as the Sheriff’s.
An annoying constant throughout the movie is the use of subtitles to explain what’s going on. This isn’t a bad thing, The X-Files did it all the time to tell you locations and times. In The Fourth Kind, however, it seems that the filmmakers think you are really stupid because they are constantly telling you obvious information. Once we’ve heard Dr. Tyler’s “real” voice once, we don’t need to be reminded of who it is every time it pops up. Not only does this happen throughout the whole movie, it’ll happen multiple times within the same scene. If there is a pause in the voice over, the subtitle will disappear only to reappear when the voice over starts again seconds later!
So as you can see, I had a lot of problems with the movie even before I found out that all the “real” footage contained within was fake. Well that was just icing on the cake. I imagine a lot of people will forgive the movie for its problems because they were interested by the archival footage. The only problem is that it is all BS. Follow this link (http://www.ghosttheory.com/2009/10/16/the-fourth-kind-exploited-tragedy) to see how the studio and filmmakers have been tricking the public into believing this is all real.
There could’ve been a good movie within The Fourth Kind, maybe even a couple. But instead we get a narrative based around footage meant to look real. In order to keep this charade we of course can’t see anything even close to conclusive evidence within the footage. As soon as something is about to be revealed, the tape goes all squiggly. By doing this the filmmakers make it so that the reenactments have to directly relate to this “found” footage instead of telling a compelling story with a beginning, middle, and end.
If you want to get freaked out by encounters with aliens you’re better off watching old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries or Sightings. Even reading abduction stories on The Fourth Kind‘s facebook page is scarier than the movie itself.