Friday, 15 October 2010

The Fourth Kind

Year: 2009
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Screenplay: Paul Brooks and Joe Carnahan
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Will Patton and Charlotte Milchard
Running Time: 98 minutes
Genre: Science-fiction, horror, alien, mockumentary

Summary: In October 2000, psychologist Dr. Abigail "Abbey" Tyler (Jovovich), whose husband was brutally murdered in mysterious circumstances right in front of her a couple of months previously an event which left her so traumatised that she has blocked out all memory of the actual killer, returns to her home city of Nome in Alaska with her two children determined to finish the work that her husband started.
Abbey starts conducting extensive therapy sessions with three Nome residents who all suffer from severe sleep disorders. Abbey is struck by the strong similarities between each case, in particular the presence of a white owl in each account. When she tries hypnosis on one of the patients, Tommy (Corey Johnson), he starts screaming, terrified of some presence which is trying to take him away.
As inexplicable and violent events seem to happen all around her, Abbey becomes convinced that she is dealing with genuine cases of alien abduction, and that she herself may also be a target.

Opinions: This film purports to be a drama-documentary telling the story of a real-life case, with the drama interspersed with interviews and genuine archive footage and tape recordings. In reality, it is an entirely fictional film and is not based on any actual cases. Also, in contrary to what is stated in the film, Nome is not some kind of alien abduction centre. Although Nome and other Alaskan towns have their fair share of disappearances, the FBI have stated that the specific disappearances that are discussed in the film are down to a combination of alcohol and freezing temperatures. Also the interviewees in the film are actors. This approach lead to a lot of controversy when the film was released due to the fact that the film is marketed and presented as being based on "actual case studies" studio produced fake on-line news reports and obituaries to make the film appear more genuine.
What about the film itself though? It features some good performances but otherwise doesn't really work. It's overloaded with flashy little flourishes, such as split screen, which just serve to take you out of the movie. Most of the shock scenes are telegraphed in advance by having the screen go blank and silent for a couple of seconds before something loud and sudden happens. There are a couple of effective jolts, but not many. The movie would have made a good 45 minute episode of The X-Files but feels stretched at 98 minutes. That is another thing about the movie, it actually feels quite dated now because the whole alien abduction thing has been so quiet in the last few years from it's hey-day in the mid to late 1990s. Incidentally, the title of the film is taken from an expansion of J. Allen Hyneck's "Close Encounters" classification of UFO sightings - a "close encounter of the fourth kind" referring to alien abduction.
Horror fans will probably be disappointed at the lack of real scares and those interested in alien abductions are not likely to find here that they have not seen before.

Milla Jovovich in The Fourth Kind

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