“The Fourth Kind” begins in a very daring and intriguing way, with the star of the movie breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience. Milla Jovovich introduced herself and explained the premise for the film that we were about to see. I found this to be an extremely interesting technique. The actress went onto say that the film we were about to see was based on a real story and that actual footage from the events existed and would be integrated into the film. She also ended by saying that the choice was ours whether we wanted to believe it really happened or not. As the film went on the actors would be introduced with a caption that read their name along with the role they were playing. I thought it all worked well with the narrative of the story but the question remains, is it real or not? The filmmakers would have you believe that the footage and the story the film is based on is real, and it may be, but I would like to believe that it’s like “Cloverfield” or the recent “Paranormal Activity” and that this was all part of the script. If that is the case then I think this film is brilliant but if I’m wrong, then this should have just been an episode of Dateline on NBC.
Once the movie begins we start off by being introduced to the “real” Dr. Abigail Tyler” from video footage of her giving a testimonial about her encounters to her psychologist. This is quickly cut into a split screen with the movie footage and we are introduced to actors Milla Jovovich and Elias Koteas who play Dr. Tyler and her doctor, respectively. As the film goes on we learn that Abigail and her late husband, also a therapist moved to the town of Nome, Alaska to do a sleep study. It seems that many people in Nome have been having problems sleeping and this has resulted in a rise in alcoholism and suicide. The events surrounding Abigail’s husband’s death are unclear at first but she claims that he was murdered in the night while they were sleeping and that his murderer is still at large. Now living alone with her two children, Abigail continues her late husband’s work. When she puts a patient under hypnosis to remember what happens to him at night, things start to get scary. He can only remember seeing a creepy looking white owl out his window before someone came to get him and then he begins to scream uncontrollably. Again, this footage is cut next to the supposed “real” footage for a very scary effect.
Abigail eventually calls in her therapist to help as she now realizes that she is in way over her head. As more of her patients begin to exhibit these strange memories Abigail starts to believe that maybe something otherworldly is happening here. After one of her patients kills himself and his family, the town sheriff played by Will Patton begins to suspect that Abigail’s sleep study is somehow responsible for all the disappearances and strange occurrences to happen in Nome recently and orders Abigail to stop her study. She of course continues and another patient is left paralyzed after he has an episode remembering his past under hypnosis. Now a suspect and under house arrest Abigail comes to the conclusion that what she is dealing with his alien abductions, which are referred to as encounters of the fourth kind and that she herself was in fact abducted at one point as well. While being guarded by the police, we see in “real” footage from the police-car camera what appears to be a UFO over the house. After that is over and the police check the house they find a hysterical Abigail and her daughter missing, claiming that someone took her. The police, scared that something weird is happening, blame Abigail for her daughters disappearance and don’t take her claims of alien abductions seriously.
It is eventually revealed that her husband actually killed himself, something that could have been a result of his alien abduction but the police see suicide as the real reason and won’t entertain Abigail’s theories. Even her doctor, who witnessed much of the strange occurrences with his own eyes will not back up her story in fear that they will lock him up as well. The film is book ended with what is revealed as the director of the movie interviewing the ”real” Abigail in the footage that we’ve been seeing inter-cut with the film throughout. Abigail’s daughter was never found and all though allegations of wrong doing by Abigail were never proved, she was committed to a hospital and his now wheelchair bound. The “real” footage that is used throughout the film is quite effective and becomes very scary when the patients are having their episodes. I think that the gimmick of this movie works very well and I enjoyed the inter-cutting of footage; I thought it told the story well. I do wish the film would down play the “real story” angle a bit and just tell their story. I don’t think that the footage was real but I like the idea that this was just an interesting and original way for the filmmakers to tell this story and that was why they chose to tell the story this way. I don’t need to be continually hit over the head with the idea that this is based on a true story but that being said, I thought the technique was quite effective.
Milla Jovovich was very believable as the film version of Abigail and you do tend to believe her and what she is going through. Equally well acted were Elias Koteas and Will Patton as her doctor and the sheriff, respectively. Although Patton is playing the sheriff as a character who really has no sympathy for Abigail’s situation he commands the part so well that you can really feel his humanity and understand why he makes the decisions that he does. The same goes for Koteas and his characters lack of empathy for Abigail. In the end, Abigail is frightened and all alone and we feel that desperation from Jovovich’s performance. I think that the script was very original and well written especially considering that if the footage is fake then they had to create all of that as well. The “actors” playing the “real” people were all believable even if their “acting” may have been purposely cheesy. I think that the “real” story aspect of the film is a plot devise that has been used in this genre a lot, especially lately but the trick here is that the filmmakers found away to put a twist on that and continue to make this type of film work and it certainly did here. The result is a scary and thrilling movie that captivates you from beginning to end.
Director Olatunde Osunsanmi does an excellent job of keeping the film’s pace flowing while incorporating the two types of footage together. If the film has one downfall it’s the heavy-handedness in which this is done at times that leaves you a bit jarred but in the end lends to the film an element of WTF that is very fun to watch as an audience member. “The Forth Kind” is a scary and unsettling film that will leave audiences creeped out for days. Its originality really wins you over and you find yourself completely enthralled in Abigail’s world and sympathetic to her plight. Again, the real footage aspect of the film really works well here and gives an extra level of spookiness to the film that really works in this suspenseful, original and scary film. I recommend this film to anyone that liked the recent “Paranormal Activity” as I think you will find this to be just as original and entertaining as that.