Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Movie Review: The Fourth Kind

The Fourth Kind *
Directed By:
Olatunde Osunsanmi.
Written By: Olatunde Osunsanmi and Terry Robbins.
Starring: Milla Jovovich (Abbey Tyler), Will Patton (Sheriff August), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Awolowa Odusami), Corey Johnson (Tommy Fisher), Elias Koteas (Abel Campos).

The Fourth Kind claims to be based on real events. And yet a quick search of the internet shows absolutely no reference to the events related in the movie except for references to the movie itself. It appears to be little more that an advertising hook to try and sell the movie. This by itself is not really a problem. After all, the Coen brothers admitted that the events in Fargo, that they claimed to be based on a true story, was fiction. And many movies that claim to be based on a true story are as fictional as any other movie. But the insistence that the movie is based on a true story hurts the film itself. The method of storytelling used in the movie is confused and garbled. Even if everything they say in the movie is true, it would be a poorly made movie.

The movie mixes “actual audio and video tapes” of the events with the reenactments that the writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi has staged. It tells the story of Dr. Abigail Tyler (Milla Jovovich in the reenactments) who in early October 2000 witnessed many strange things in the town of Nome, Alaska. He husband was murdered two months before, and she is continuing her work. Many people in Nome seem to having trouble sleeping, and are telling Tyler the same story of waking up between 2 and 3 am and seeing an owl outside their window that no matter what they do will not go away. Tyler puts them under hypnosis, and more memories come out. They get violent under hypnosis, and if they survive it unscathed, they snap later in the day and become violent.

The movie goes into split screen, and at times even into quadrants, so that it can show both the “real footage” as well as the reenactments at the same time. The reenactments are necessary because whenever there would be evidence of any sort of alien contact, the tape becomes obscured. All we can hear are some strange noises, that the movie claims is the ancient language known as Samarian that can not fully be translated. What we do hear is supposed to be scary.

The movie doesn’t make sense dramatically. We are treated to a lot of sound and fury about alien adductions, but nothing is ever really identified. This is because the filmmakers want us to believe what they are trying to tell us. But even before I went online and found out that the true story aspect of the movie was false, I suspected as much. You do not get the type of footage that they claim to be real without it being plastered everywhere. Much of the events of the movie do not really stand up to any real scrutiny.

I think that a good movie could have been made out of this material. If the filmmakers had made a decision, perhaps the story would have worked. If they had jettisoned the true story aspect, and simply made a high gloss alien thriller, it could have been entertaining. Had they went the other way, and made a film in the vein of The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, they could have had a low budget stunner on their hands. But the filmmakers seem to want it both ways, and the result is a completely unsatisfying, poorly made, poorly acted, ridiculous motion picture.

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