US (dir. Olatunde Osunsanmi)
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Alisha Seaton, Will Patton, Corey Johnson, Daphne Alexander, Elias Koteas, Enzo Cilenti, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Mia McKenna-Bruce
Synopsis: Fact-based thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up.
Review: To preface this review, I’d like to point out that “The Fourth Kind” is not really based on any “actual case studies”, thus severely undermining the legitimacy of any of the movie’s claims, conclusions, theories and pretty much the entire epilogue. Its gimmick of using purportedly “real” footage alongside dramatizations works for the most part, but it gets old quick. Though it contains elements of both, this is more of a mockumentary type of film then a found footage type (i.e. “Paranomal Activity”, “The Blair Witch Project”). Perhaps this is an example of a new horror subgenre? Hmmmmm… That said, “The Fourth Kind” is still a pretty solid alien abduction movie with scares aplenty to keep you awake at night. Even if you’re not really into horror sci-fi, I’m fairly certain you’ll get a scream out of “The Fourth Kind”.
As mentioned, the film’s gimmick involves the usage of “real” found footage played alongside a dramatization of the events portrayed in the footage. This is a pretty good idea for the most part, however after seeing the split screen presentation of the found footage and the re-enactments more than 3 or 4 times, it becomes either distracting, unnecessary or a combination of both. It almost makes you ask, why even do both? Or better yet, why even do both at the same time? They could have just as easily gotten away with doing one or the other as they did both at the same time (in annoyingly distracting split screen), so I’m not sure why they didn’t just stick with one. Maybe they really couldn’t decide on the best format. Or maybe they didn’t want to be accused of copying past films, most notably, “The Blair Witch Project” in terms of using the supposedly real found footage. Either way, I’m pretty convinced this would have been a solid film with either re-enactments or found footage, but after seeing the fake found footage, I’m fairly certain I would have enjoyed seeing that more. The dramatizations basically re-create the found footage, and they almost become unnecessary, especially considering the found footage is pretty clear for the most part and doesn’t really require an actor/actress re-enacting it for us to watch it and “believe” it (if that was their goal).
In terms of the actors doing the dramatizations, we get veteran Elias Koteas and a bunch of relatively unknown actors doing recreations of absolutely unknown actors portraying “real” people in the “found” footage. Maybe having some bigger name actors/actresses playing the roles of the re-creation footage actors would have been a reasonable excuse for even having dramatizations at all, but meh, I’m not gonna judge their casting choices on that one. What I am going to judge is their casting choice for both actresses playing Abigail Tyler, the small town psychiatrist whose patients (and even herself and her family) are experiencing what appear to be alien abductions. On the dramatization side they have Milla Jovovich in the role of Tyler. Now it’s a well known fact that I adore Milla (particularly her work in the “Resident Evil” franchise), but honestly I just cannot see her as a small town psychiatrist with two kids. Perhaps chalk it up to type-casting, but I cannot see Milla as anything but a badass, ass-kicking chick who can do crazy flips off walls.
This isn’t the role for Milla. Sorry, but I just don’t see her as this kind of person. The woman playing the “actual” Abigail Tyler is even more badly cast. She literally looks like one of the fucking aliens with her weird, long face, bulging eyes, skeletal frame and non-rhotic*, monotonic, robotic voice (example: They. Dwagged. Me. Fwom. My. Woom.) Maybe she tried out for the role of Alien #1, didn’t get the part so she settled for Abigail Tyler instead.
The story here involves Abigail investigating the disappearances and bizarre visions experienced by many of her patients in Nome, Alaska. She suspects alien abduction. There’s a sort of side story involving her husband’s death (which we find out later was most likely suicide, though Abigail cannot come to admit this) and an investigation into the possible Sumerian origins of the aliens, but nothing is really concluded in the sense that there aren’t any definite answers regarding whether there was even, in fact, any abductions at all, or for that matter, any aliens either. The movie even just sort of… ends, right when things start to get moving too. And we are forced to suffer through Robo-Abigail moan about how aliens took her baby. An overly long epilogue explains the whereabouts of certain people involved in the events in Nome, but again, there aren’t many answers given or conclusions made.
Despite these shortcomings, you’d be surprised to know that I actually enjoyed this film. It had some scary parts, and some of the found footage was effectively convincing (except during one piece of footage that conveniently cuts out during a very incriminating event). Check it out, you may find yourself sleeping quite uneasily as a result.
*Word of the day! Non-rhotic: the inability to pronounce the letter r