THE FOURTH KIND: 2 STARS
There’s a lot of hooey in “The Fourth Kind.” Alien abductions and junk science but the biggest nose stretcher occurs just under a minute into the film. Milla Jovovich intros the movie calling herself “actress Milla Jovovich.” She’s a lot of things—beautiful woman, check, talented model, check, nice to hang out with, probably—but after seeing “The Fourth Kind” I have a hard time understanding how she and, let’s say Meryl Streep, can lay claim to the same job description.
Like “Paranormal Activity,” and “The Blair Witch Project” “The Fourth Kind” is a fictional story that uses alleged documentary footage as the basis for the story. In this case it is a therapist’s session tapes, police surveillance video and interview footage with psychotherapist Dr. Emily Taylor, that forms the backbone of the film’s case for the existence of alien abductions.
Set in modern-day Nome, Alaska, the movie stars Jovovich as Dr. Taylor, whose husband was murdered in their bed as she lay helplessly nearby. Despite her emotional trauma she elects to continue her practice, which involves hypnotherapy and repeatedly telling people to “Take a deep breath and calm down.” When one of her patients kills his family and then himself, and others complain of insomnia and seeing an evil owl—How do we know its evil? Why, ominous music plays whenever it is onscreen, that’s how!—she comes to the only conclusion a trained medical professional could reach—they’ve all been abducted by aliens and then returned to earth!
It seems Nome has a bit of a reputation as a hotbed of alleged ET activity, with dozens of people going missing there each year, never to be heard of again. Apparently even the FBI, after multiple investigations into the disappearances, hasn’t been able to pinpoint why so many people vanish from the area. I don’t know either, but I would guess Sarah Palin has something to do with it.
If “The Fourth Kind” was made in the 1950s by Roger Corman it would have been called “Aliens in Alaska” (or maybe the punchier “Alaskan Aliens”) and it might not have taken itself so seriously. Also, Corman would have known that you can’t make an alien picture and NOT SHOW ANY ALIENS! It’s an unbreakable movie rule, like the one that says the first person to die in a slasher flick will always be the trashy prom queen. Also Corman might have been able to draw a performance out of Jovovich, who is completely out of her emotional depth here. If I was her agent I’d suggest sticking to the action flicks.
In its favor “The Fourth Kind” (which is an even closer encounter than the third kind) has some nice structural work, inventively blending the “real” footage in with the dramatized scenes, but since the director never met a dolly or hand held shot he didn’t love, much of the film’s style gets lost in hectic camerawork.
“The Fourth Kind” isn’t as successful as its other “real life” cousins, “Paranormal Activity” and “The Blair Witch Project.” It does, however, take an inventive idea and push it toward camp by taking itself WAY too seriously.