In the lexicon of alien encounters, the first encounter mean sighting a UFO, second is the physical manifestations of a UFO’s like crop circles, the third is an up close and personal with possible ET’s, and the fourth kind is abduction. In the small town of Nome, Alaska, Dr. Abigail Tyler amasses video tapes of patients who relay stories with identical details all pointing to possible alien abduction.
At the beginning of The Fourth Kind, Milla Jovovich introduces herself and tells us she will be playing Dr. Tyler. She then warns viewers that they should be prepared to see disturbing actual footage culled from the 65 hours of video and audio taken of Dr. Tyler’s patients. It is explained that the names of the people involved in this story are aliases or they are omitted from the audio. Milla Jovovich as the doctor plays against type of her usual Resident Evil no-holds-barred super woman persona. Dr. Tyler in the archived video is thin and frail, eyes wide and struggles to explain her story to an interviewing Oltude Osunsanmi (the writer and director).
Dr. Tyler, a psychologist, is recovering from the sudden mysterious violent death of her husband and fellow researcher. Under hypnosis from friend and shrink Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas), Dr Tyler relives the event as someone (who she can not see) is stabbing her husband while he’s lying next to her in their bed. To cope with her loss and to keep her family afloat, she continues with their work. Her younger daughter, Ashley, suffers from a psychological blindness caused by the trauma of her father’s passing. Her older son wants his mom to stop sheltering his sister and tell her the truth.
Several people who have been suffering with sleep disorders report to have seen a white owl watching them. They have all claimed to have seen this since they were children. The sightings have caused them to lose sleep and experience feelings of anxiety and stress. Under hypnosis, one of her patients relives a terrifying event which later has terrible consequences. The Nome Sheriff (Will Patton) believes Dr. Tyler’s involvement was the motivating factor that causes the tragedy. With the help of Dr. Campos and Osunsanmi they try to examine and explain the odd events. Another patient requests to be hypnotized so that he doesn’t fall victim to whatever happened to the other guy. And of course it does. And of course all the proof of whatever is haunting these people can not be substantiated because the recordings are all conveniently un-viewable. Dr. Campos refuses to validate her stories even though he’s a witness to the levitating guy because he can’t find a way to explain it. When the little girl disappears, the Sheriff wants to arrest Dr. Tyler who insists she was taken through the roof. The big reveal at the end does nothing to either prove or negate Dr. Tyler’s predicament.
The mock documentary uses the so called archived footage filled in with reenactments to create some semblance of a story and add character development. The split screen device to overlay the real and acted becomes tiresome and confusing. What seems credible at first starts to lose some of that cohesiveness and quickly gets out of control. There are a few scenes like the patient interviews that are interesting and believable. Then the plot holes start to build. It doesn’t help that Milla underplays her role and the “real” Dr. Tyler over-emotes her part. The dramatic soundtrack mixed with the remote vistas of the location is just plain overkill. The viral marketing campaign that suggests that it’s based on actual events would have worked great for Paranormal Activity. In the case of The Fourth Kind, if you have any questions about its truth, there’s always Google. (Review by Reesa Cruz-Hawkins)
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