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The Fourth Kind

THE FOURTH KIND - 2009, Olatunde Osunsanmi
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas

I intentionally went to The Fourth Kind not knowing what to expect. When invited to an advance screening, I decided to restrain myself from doing any prior research. I liked the notion of taking the movie in as a complete surprise. Well, I suppose it was a little bit different from what I may have expected, but that doesn’t make it anything worth watching.

The Fourth Kind starts off on a feeble note. Supermodel/actress Milla Jovovich delivers a solemn disclaimer to the audience, warning us that what we are about to see is very real and very disturbing. She also mentions that she is playing one of the people in the re-enactment, in case we don’t notice in the movie we are about to see. Not only is the disclaimer a bad idea, but it is hideously stylized too. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi puts the colourful background in motion behind Jovovich, and employs the use of ominous-sounding music.

This ominous-sounding music seethes in the background of essentially every scene that follows, just to remind us of how unsettling and disturbing it all is. The film puts on the guise of a documentary meshed with dramatic recreations, charting the experiences of Dr. Abigail Tyler in relation to alien abductions. Osunsanmi periodically splices “real” footage into the film, complete with captions that say “Real Footage”.

It’s an interesting concept to utilize a mockumentary style within the horror genre, but here it feels gimmicky and the execution is too sloppy for it to be effective. I think the movie would have benefitted from discarding the dramatization element altogether, and just functioning as a fake documentary.

The fake documentary portion is sometimes quite strong, with well-drawn performances by actors who have to shed a lot of their performing instincts. There are moments in this side of the film that are genuinely spooky, but the same can’t be said for the rest of it.

The “recreation” part of The Fourth Kind occupies a significant amount of running time, and it is so cringe-worthily bad that it squashes any potential the picture had. The dialogue is so rigid and contrived that even the most talented actors wouldn’t be able to pull much out of it. Jovovich does a noble job struggling with her character, but she never rises above the material.

With such a substantial segment that leaves us unsatisfied, this film fails to achieve anything more than a few cheap thrills. If you’re interested in this subject matter, rent Close Encounters of the Third Kind and watch that instead. If you’ve already seen Close Encounters, watch it again. It’s a good movie.