The Fourth Kind focuses on alien abductions and the allegedly true case and documentation of psychologist Abigail Tyler. The movie is spliced with audio and video recordings from “true” events, as well as interviews with the real Tyler (played by Milla Jovovich throughout most of the film).
Oh, and it’s all utterly ridiculous.
The movie is supposed to recreate events involving several of Tyler’s patients, who all have similar stories of being woken up in the middle of the night by an owl. Tyler tries to relate all of this to her husband’s death and her own experiences within her household. Creepy? Sure. Thought-provoking? Sometimes. Easy to mock? Always.
One of the main issues with The Fourth Kind is the acting. Will Patton, who plays the sheriff, should never again be given a serious role. He elicits a chuckle or two every time he appears on screen. In fact, some of his lines (such as “What is this craziness?”, “We know it’s not real!” and more explicit statements) are delivered so poorly that they will be mocked by viewers for weeks to come.
The rest of the dialogue is equally stilted and forced. Abel Campos, played by Elias Koteas, just looks perpetually confused. Jovovich’s portrayal of Tyler rarely ventures beyond a few blood-curdling –- and annoying -– screams. Even so, the acting doesn’t totally ruin the movie. Dim lighting, scary music and the occasional seizure all help the movie feel as eerie as it’s supposed to.
The “real” documentation within the movie is often perfectly lined up with what the actors say. It’s a pretty creative way to provide the apparent evidence for the events. That said, the content of the tapes is questionable, as is the analysis within the movie. The videotapes are shaky in places they should not be. The random voices are said to be speaking Sumerian but are not at all intelligible or at least could not be identified so quickly.
Minor inconsistencies aside, the fact that all involved parties of the “real” events declined to be named, or even to corroborate the story, speaks volumes. Even the man who supposedly helped Tyler translate Sumerian and contributed his knowledge to the movie asked to not be named in the film.
Interviews with the “real” Tyler –- who is probably the most alien-looking creature in entire film -– were conducted by writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi. Records of Dr. Abigail Tyler from Nome, Alaska are difficult -– dare I say impossible? –- to find. For a story supposedly so grounded in reality, there are too many loopholes to just accept it at face value.
Despite the flaws in The Fourth Kind, the movie is immensely entertaining. It does provoke some thoughts on extraterrestrial existence. Some of the hypnosis scenes are borderline freaky and are definitely not for the faint of heart. The setup and concept is interesting and fresh for an alien movie. And the director does not try to summon up cheesy representations of aliens, using lighting and sound more to convey the presence of an unknown creature.
But then Jovovich says something like “It is not God, but it can pretend to be,” and it’s too easy to just laugh it off again.
Bottom Line: No matter how hard “The Fourth Kind” tries to prove that aliens exist, it elicits little more than a couple of shocks, a handful of chuckles and 98 minutes of disbelief.