By Dave Campbell | November 6, 2009
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Writer(s): Olatunde Osunsanmi
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton
Disclaimer: Though there are no plot spoilers included in this review beyond a basic premise, the claim of “real actual footage” being used in the film is highly scrutinized and discussed.
Set in Nome, Alaska, The Fourth Kind follows the path of psychiatrist Dr. Abigail Tyler just after the tragic unsolved death of her husband in the Fall 2000. Dr. Tyler’s patients begin to express the same pattern of issues causing them to have trouble sleeping. Each patient recalls seeing a white owl outside their window and under hypnosis, exhibit behaviors that suggest encounters with non-human intruders. Once awake each person explains feeling paralyzed, hearing horrific noises and voices outside their bedroom doors just before something takes them from their rooms against their will. Detailed account beyond this goes dark as the fear consumes their memories and mental stability.
As Dr. Tyler investigates the phenomenon, she discovers that the area around Nome has a history of unsolved missing people and bizarre activity that goes back to the 1960s. As she investigates further, the unbelievable becomes believable as her patients’ stories stray from her mental speciality and become a comprehensive case of evidence that the town of Nome, Alaska is all experiencing alien abduction, aka encounters of the fourth kind.
When you create an intro (and outro) with actor Milla Jovovich introducing herself and explaining that what you are about to see is actual video and audio from real therapy sessions that will be spliced into the dramatic recreations of actual events, I expected honesty in what I was being told. However, The Fourth Kind‘s filmmakers say to us, “What you believe is yours to decide.” after feeding us with so called “actual footage”, side-by-side with the reenactment that turns out to be just as much a fabricated and dramatized work of fiction.
Personally, I am someone who is fascinated with Ufology and watch any well made UFO TV series, special, or documentary that the history Channel or Discovery will throw my way, but hoaxes at any level are greatly disappointing. I understand that this is Hollywood, but this film would have worked so much better without trying to dupe me with false belief from our misleading tour guides. This is the kind of subject matter that I usually champion, but the level of betrayal I felt made it hard for me to wrap my head around.
The Fourth Kind is at times quite disturbing and engaging leading us to believe that we are building up to a strong climatic finish, but the falsification and contrived nature of the “actual footage” elements we are presented with, distract with huge questions of authenticity. It’s such a distraction that the viewer may have a hard time getting sucked into the movie – I know I did. (See Alaskan report of the actual events in question here).
Performances are average to pretty good around the table with sharp cinematography and deep textured colors, setting a complementary tone needed for the darkness of the film. Unfortunately like many untrue elements of the story Nome, Alaska, looks nothing like it’s film representation. Regardless of the troubled execution, The Fourth Kind has a great story idea buried within that follows the footsteps of well developed films like: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Communion, and Fire In The Sky…the problem here is the bullsh*t trail that follows it.