After the most buzzworthy film of the year (Paranormal Activity) came out of nowhere to become the #1 movie in America, the marketing team behind The Fourth Kind is going to great lengths to make us believe the events depicted in this movie are real (just like the guys behind Paranormal Activity did!!!), but The Fourth Kind is about as a real as the date I had with Jennifer Aniston in my dreams the other night. It ends about as successfully as well (even in my dreams, Jennifer Aniston knows she can do better).
Set in October 2000 (with the accompanying, supposedly real video tape footage), Milla Jovovich stars as Dr. Abbey Tyler - a psychologist in Nome, Alaska conducting a sleep disorder study. After her husband is mysteriously murdered, Dr. Tyler tries to move forward with their work, but she is encountering information that intrigues and frightens her. Patients are reporting many of the same problems, images and experiences, which makes her believe they could be interacting with aliens!
Is the city of Nome being raided by extraterrestrials who conduct experiments on its citizens?
What happened to Dr. Tyler's husband?
Who is next?
It's very hard to discuss The Fourth Kind without delving deeply into some major plot twists in the movie, so the next few lines will be the non-spoiler version of my review, with the rest coming after it.
Without giving away anything, I do have to admit The Fourth Kind has moments where it grips your attention and provides some shocks and scares that will elicit screams from the audience. Jovovich also deserves some credit for intriguing the audience as she portrays Dr. Tyler's descent into madness (or, depending on your belief in the movie, her attempts to convince the rest of the town something dangerous is lurking among them, it doesn't want to go home, and Reese's Pieces are not enough to satisfy it).
I often joke Jovovich is the lead actress you turn to when you can't afford to hire Jennifer Aniston or Reese Witherspoon, and actresses like Rachel McAdams and Sandra Bullock are getting better scripts offered to them, but she's a solid leading actress who does her best to help writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi try to prove to us this is all real. Beyond starring in The Fourth Kind, Jovovich steps out of character and appears on screen imploring the audience to believe the story and accept its veracity. She puts her own credibility on the line for this.
However, I have to question why Osunsanmi includes so much of the video tape "evidence". He often runs the original video tape on screen next to the re-enactments he directed with Jovovich and the rest of the cast. It doesn't shed any new light on the movie or help make it creepier or more impactful in any way. Instead, it's distracting and made me wonder why he didn't just edit all of the "real" video together into a very good documentary. He doesn't necessarily make the movie better with this technique, so it's an exercise in futility.
If you don't want to know anymore about The Fourth Kind, accept the fact that I give this movie 1 ½ Waffles, and come back when you want to read the rest of my review. For the interested folks reading this, you have been warned. We're talking about some important plot twists, STARTING NOW.
Since Osunsanmi is striving so hard to convince the audience that The Fourth Kind is real, and goes as far as including the video tape "evidence" of the "actual events" and people who are portrayed in the movie, I feel like I have to question the authenticity of his and Dr. Tyler's claims, if Dr. Tyler exists at all.
As we watch The Fourth Kind, the video tape "evidence" always becomes extremely distorted whenever something extraterrestrial could be happening on screen, which means we don't get a good view of "the proof". We don't know what audio was added later, how it might have been manipulated or what happens during the distorted portions. Would you believe me if I told you I dunked on Michael Jordan and showed you a tape that got all distorted when the action was happening, then went clear as I stood underneath the hoop claiming I achieved the feat?
However, here's the biggest problem with The Fourth Kind. As portrayed in the film, and as we are reminded in the closing of the movie, Dr. Tyler claims her 5-year old, blind daughter, Ashley Tyler, was kidnapped by aliens.
Follow my logic on this. In the year 2000, a blind, cute 5-year old girl disappears and her mother claims ALIENS DID IT, yet, this fantastical tale does not become the biggest story of the year? This is the age of the internet, 24-hour cable news television, rabid talk radio and more. If this really happened, Ashley Tyler's name would be synonymous with Chandra Levy, Natalie Holloway and JonBenet Ramsey.
I worked at a news radio station at the time, with the station playing constantly in my office, and I never heard this story come up. I have searched the internet for independent verification of this story in Alaskan newspapers and can't find a mention of it. She is not listed with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She is not on the FBI's list of missing children. The Polly Klaas Foundation does not have a record of her missing. This dog won't hunt!!!!
While the team behind Paranormal Activity gives us a wink and a smile when presenting its footage, the team behind The Fourth Kind goes through an immense effort to make us believe this happened, so you have to be a little disappointed with the truth, and it impacts your opinion of the movie.
The Fourth Kind might have worked better if Onsunsami wasn't challenging us to question whether or not it was real and just had some fun filming an unbelievable story.
1 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)
The Fourth Kind is rated PG-13 for violent/disturbing images, some terror, thematic elements and brief sexuality.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun