7 November 2009

Movie Review: The Fourth Kind


The Fourth Kind
2009, 98mins, PG-13
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Writer (s): Olatunde Osunsanmi, Terry Robbins
Cast includes: Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Elias Koteas, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Corey Johnson
Release Date: 6th November 2009

“The Fourth Kind” is a stinky helping of science fiction wrapped up under the illusion that it carries some sort of emotional weight, a film that desperately wants audiences to believe “the actual case studies” depicted are a thing of reality. Debut director Olatunde Osunsanmi stages the movie as a dramatization of events that occurred at the beginning of the 21st Century, with bursts of supposedly genuine footage to support the uninvolving story on display. With movies like “The Blair Witch Project” and the recently released “Paranormal Activity” having proved that contemporary viewers are still keen to chow down on “true story” horror, I see no reason why “The Fourth Kind” won’t strike a rewarding box-office chord, but ultimately as a viewing experience it’s boring and dubiously constructed.

The movie takes place in Alaska and focuses on Dr. Abigail Tyler (Milla Jovovich) who is still reeling from the spooky and questionable death of her own husband. The narrative which is contained within a supposedly real interview between the actual Dr. Tyler and Osunsanmi himself then purports to tell how several of Abigail’s patients began to endure coincidental and frightening visions, resulting in the doctor linking these supernatural aspects with alien abduction and then the death of her own spouse. This idea of splicing real with dramatized might work for the most undiscriminating viewers and is in itself an intriguing concept, but ultimately in execution it leaves a great deal to be desired.

The film forcibly addresses its need to be taken as a serious production, the movie even begins with Jovovich herself explaining how the story really occurred and that her interpretation of Dr. Tyler is just a performance, but that it’s based on a real woman who endured all of the events depicted in the motion picture. However that’s where things start to turn nasty and from there on in the film feels fraudulent and reeks of desperation, Osunsanmi killing his story through brute force and over exaggeration, much like a child lying to its parents. The conviction is present but the way in which it’s presented is ill fated and lacks subtlety, whilst the actual story at the movie’s heart feels awfully soggy and unexciting.

I’ll reserve a kind word for Jovovich who commits to the role solidly and actively tries to overcome the weak screenplay and poorly staged gimmick at the project’s centre. She does a decent job with the character (certainly a better one than the Dr. Tyler who appears in the interviews, whimpering and overplaying everything) and almost succeeds in turning her into the sort of fully rounded screen presence that good movies get built around. Everyone else is relentlessly monotonous and one note, again they’re all apparently playing existing people, but never once did I feel that these hackneyed stereotypes could be living amongst us. Decent actors like Will Patton and Elias Koteas fumble their parts in a blaze of eagerness and earnestness, further undermining the film’s goal of being believed rather than rebuked.

As a thriller the movie fails on the grounds that it’s bland and as a horror it only offers one decent boo moment. Occasionally the filmmakers create some chilling imagery and an atmospheric sense of discontent, but the PG-13 rating stops them from getting hardcore whilst the attempts at documented terror are let down by obvious CGI and a worrying predictability. Osunsanmi seems pretty talented at wielding shrill and loud sound effects but given the lack of genuine horror offered they simply seem like a lazy and cheap antidote to the movie’s more terminal problems. Anybody under 13 might be provided with a dose of the jitters after a viewing of “The Fourth Kind” but ultimately even the majority of the teens still locked out of the R-rated circuit will still find this a lackluster disappointment.

For all of Jovovich’s efforts the movie never achieves much of an emotional heart or dramatic weight, the lousy screenplay and dishearteningly unconvincing exposition ruining the pictures chances before it really kicks off. The title of the film refers to the fourth kind of alien contact, which is abduction. In honesty I’d much rather be taken by a UFO armed with probes and vicious green men than sit through this again, because at least an actual alien kidnapping wouldn’t be lacking in creepiness or believability, both of which are absent in “The Fourth Kind”.

Review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


Anonymous said...

The fourth kind movie is thriller movie. When a UFO is sighted, it is called an encounter of the first kind. When evidence is collected, it is known as an encounter of the second kind. When contact is made with extraterrestrials, it is the third kind. The next level, abduction, is the fourth kind. You will love to watch the fourth kind movie

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