REVIEW: ‘The Fourth Kind’

Growing up, I can remember many a Saturday afternoon I spent plopped down in front of the TV waiting for one of my favorite shows to come on: “In Search of…” I was my little nugget of the weird and mysterious in an otherwise ordinary life. I watched wide-eyed as Leonard Nimoy added his sci-fi gravitas to topics like Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle or UFOs. I loved the UFO stories. I liked the idea of life out there. I even did my sixth grade science project on UFOs. So, I’m a big fan of the possibility of extraterrestrial life. However…

I am not a fan of overwrought “dramatizations.”
I am not a fan of stupid people.
I’m certainly not a fan of wasting an hour and a half of my life.
And therefore, I am not a fan of “The Fourth Kind”.

The film opens presenting its star, Milla Jovovich, in a particularly interesting way: as herself. She announces very solemnly that what we are about to see contains “rare archival footage” and that the decision as to whether or not this is a true story resides strictly with us, the audience. It segues into a split screen of Dr. Abigail Tyler (whose work this is “based” on) and Jovovich as Tyler. Apparently, politics isn’t the strangest thing going on in Alaska as we find that people who think they are just having sleeping disorders are really being abducted by aliens who disguise themselves as owls and speak Sumerian.

Really.

Admittedly, that’s somewhat of an oversimplification of some plot elements, but it’s still fairly accurate. It’s also fairly accurate to say that “the Fourth Kind” is not a very good movie. Why? Because my leg can only be pulled so far. OK, I can believe that a psychologist may have found people who, while under hypnosis, say that they’ve been abducted by aliens. OK, and said aliens put a mental image of a big white owl in their brains. Oh, and they speak Sumerian and there’s someone – in Alaska no less — who can actually recognize and interpret the spoken language even though it’s been dead for thousands of years. Uh huh… And even with film, tape and eyewitness accounts, no one believes it. One other thing… the main character may just be batshit crazy?

After all this, I think I may be, too.

Mostly, “the Fourth Kind” suffers from trying too hard to be simultaneously believable and unbelievable and only ends up being irritating. The characters, as portrayed in writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi script, are maddeningly stupid. Ordinarily I could probably go with it – since when people are presented with something overwhelmingly bizarre, they sometimes refuse to acknowledge the evidence. But the movie seems to try to lead us down two conflicting paths – one saying “Yes, we want you to believe this,” and the other saying, “Hey, you can’t believe her! She’s crazy.” Even so, if that were the only problem with the movie, I might be able to forgive it, but they just keep piling it on, like the convoluted lies of a man caught with his penis somewhere it shouldn’t be (“I was just helping it over the fence.”). After so long, you just want it to stop.

All in all, it plays out like any number of cable dramatization shows and left me feeling like I’d experienced an alien abduction myself: One night in October, I was removed from my home, subjected to torture and found that I’d lost approximately an hour and a half of my life that I will never have back.

I think I would have preferred the anal probe.

Joe Lopez
Dubbed, "TerrorScribe" by a former editor, Joe made the conversion to horror sometime in the mid-2000s. Little did he know he'd favored the genre all of his life. When not struggling with short stories, he provided genre film reviews for local entertainment sites and later genre sites who could suffer his cynical views.

It was that same cynicism - and some might say hubris - that lead him to have a brief flirtation with filmmaking. His first two efforts, "Annotated" and "Antes Que Seja Tarde (Before It's Too Late)" both premiered at a local H.P. Lovecraft film festival. A third short, "Survivor Girl" proved to be his undoing though plans are in the works to revived the cursed project.

Born and raised in Dallas, TX., Joe now resides in a small Texas town. Statistics say more dead bodies turn up in small towns that big cities... though he claims to have NOTHING to do with that.
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