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Friday
Nov062009

The Fourth Kind

Beginning in the 1960's, the city of Nome, Alaska has witnessed the disappearances of a number of its citizens. The circumstances surrounding them have been clouded in an air of mystery and despite many investigations by the FBI, nobody has been found. The new film, The Fourth Kind, hypothesizes that perhaps no evidence exists because the disappearances are not of this world. It poses the argument that aliens could have abducted these people and it supports itself through the use of "archival" footage that is shown side by side with the actors reenacting it. Though it is not without its share of weaknesses, this approach to storytelling is unique and interesting and I liked it. It adds something to the picture that other science fiction movies are missing and really convinces you that these events actually occurred.

The movie follows psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler, played by Milla Jovovich, as she works with her patients, helping them recall memories that they have been forced to forget. Through hypnosis, she allows them to envision their abductions, all of which have striking similarities. At night, they all have seen an owl staring at them. Unfortunately, recalling these events has caused certain unexplainable activity to occur and Tyler quickly finds herself in trouble with things outside of this realm.

The Fourth Kind begins unlike any other film I've seen. Jovovich walks directly towards the camera, introduces herself and explains the premise that I've outlined above. She then goes on to say, "Some of what you are about to see is extremely disturbing." And indeed, it is. There are three or four moments in the film guaranteed to crawl under your skin. They are handled with such finesse and subtlety that it will surely chill you to the core. It brilliantly shows you just enough to get your imagination going before some type of alien interference scrambles the picture.

With that said, there are some overall silly moments in the film that don't bode well with its somber and serious attitude, like an early shot of an owl that lingers for far too long, but the overall quality of the picture is quite good. It gets a little manic during certain sections and the all too present music forebodes of something evil to come, but the structure and design of the film is spectacular.

There's a certain suspension of disbelief one must hand over when viewing a movie like this, but at times, I found it tough to grant even that. Anybody with a brain knows that hypnosis doesn't really do much of anything, much less bring back non-existent memories of your forgotten alien abduction, but the seriousness of the procedure is the crutch of the film. I was willing to give it at least that much and go along with the absurd notion of hypnosis. What I wasn't willing to grasp was the idea that the city sheriff could somehow connect the process to the terrible events that were happening. By his logic, she is responsible for the paralysis of one man and the killing spree of another because they were both hypnotized beforehand. I may have been able to go with the idea that hypnosis was something other than a load of crap, but this movie stretches it way past the point of credulity.

The Fourth Kind ends with Jovovich telling us that what we've seen is real and it is up to us to decide what we believe. Of course, it's not real and I don't believe a single moment of it. A quick Google search goes a long way to debunking this outlandish story. The Anchorage Daily News recently put out an article claiming that there are actually "no records of Abigail Tyler ever being licensed in any profession in Alaska." Another click of the mouse brought up the FBI ruling, which stated that the real life disappearances this film is based on were due to excessive drinking and harsh winters. It looks like the movie studio is simply trying to pull another Blair Witch Project on us.

No, this isn't real, but it's fun to pretend, isn't it?

The Fourth Kind receives 3.5/5

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