There are four kinds of alien encounters. The fourth kind is abduction.
Running Time: 98 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
Maybe it was bad timing, what with all the buzz over Paranormal Activity. Maybe its that movie audiences are so used to reality TV that they think the only good entertainment is if its real. Or, maybe, Universal is to blame for waffling around on whether parts of this film were real, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of viewers who went in under the assumption that at least part of what they were seeing was true. Whatever the reason that The Fourth Kind hasnt been well received, its a shame, because despite some forgivable flaws, its a genuinely scary movie.
Strange things have been happening in Nome, Alaska, with people disappearing and weird owls flitting aroundplus there are the suicides. Dr. Abigail Tyler and her late husband Will have been trying to get to the bottom of all the creepiness, which seems to point towards alien activity, by using hypnotherapy, but as their patients dreams become more vivid and they delve deeper into their repressed memories, the true horror of whats really happening becomes too much for one small, isolated town.
Now, the grumbles about the marketing and, to be fair, the way this film is presented stem from the fact that its supposedly based around real events involving real people and footage. Milla Jovovich even adds an air of credibility to these claims by breaking the fourth wall in the first scene and telling us that exact thing. I dont know, maybe Im just jaded, but none of that really made me think this stuff was real (Universal has finally pretty well admitted as much). Thing is, I didnt care. Sure, maybe its a little freakier to think those real hypnosis tapes were, in fact, genuine, but theyre still scary, and do more to unsettle and scare than the entire span of the over-hyped and aforementioned Paranormal Activity. Even if the marketing was disingenuous, the sheer creep factor of the supposedly actual Dr. Tyler, or of the blurred images and static-ridden screams and voices of the hypnosis tapes are disturbing. As a filmmaking device, the juxtaposition of fiction (Jovovich) and her story against the interviews and tapes is handled well and works as an interesting way to tell a tale. There are some glaring questions that arent ever really addressed, such as why the Tylers were there in the first place, or how in the world she was able to keep her kids as long as she did, and some may feel cheated that theres no discernible payoff, no concrete monster to hold on to. For me, though, the biggest disappointment is in the fact that, by trying to add authenticity to the actual footage, we dont get to know who those actors are (especially Abigail), because THATS some of the most harrowing horror acting Ive seen in a while.
It's Got: Scary voices, more creepy stuff than Paranormal Activity, owls
It Needs: Audiences to lighten up, recognition of the "real" actors, more owls
Alternatives:Dreamcatcher, Paranormal Activity, Session 9
Ignore the claims that parts of this are real and go in expecting a disturbing work of fiction that uses a clever technique to tell its story and you wont be disappointed.