Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi Notable Cast: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton, Hakeem Kae-Kazim
“The truth is out there.” That’s the catchphrase everybody remembers from the cult television series The X-Files. FBI agents Mulder and Scully would investigate the unexplainable each week, from circus freaks to killer cockroaches. Strange as these are, the duo’s central quest was that illusive search for alien life. If only they relocated to Nome, Alaska. They could have saved on travel expenses, as the city’s a hotspot for alien shenanigans.
Alien life forms have been a fundamental part of science fiction cinema. Blame it on the Cold War and the paranoia that went along with it. Some films involve aliens making contact with man and espousing that they’ve come in peace. Other films take a different approach with aliens wanting to eradicate our planet. The latter is well documented in Ronald Emmerich’s Independence Day – who can forget the number the extra terrestrials did on the White House or the Empire State Building.
And then there’s a story archetype that forgoes peace or war: the alien abduction tale.
The Fourth Kind from Olatunde Osunsanmi is a film that tries to be a number of different films all at once. That approach makes it seem destined for disaster, which it does become as the plot unravels, but not before we’ve witnessed the most expensive Unsolved Mysteries episode ever made.
By combining science fiction with horror, Osunsanmi’s project has a few good scares, and if you leave out the alien abduction element it could have been a good psychological thriller about a missing daughter and a mother who may or may not be insane.
The publicity behind The Fourth Kind would have you believe that what we are watching is based on actual occurrences. And it sticks to its story by having actress Milla Jovovich explain at the onset that she is the actress Milla Jovovich and she is playing the psychotherapist Abigail Tyler. The film is comprised by other fact-based characters whose names have been changed to conceal their true identities. Jovovich goes on to say that every scene is supported by archived footage. This is proved at various intervals through split-screen to show the “real” footage and the reenactment.
The mixing of “documentary” footage alongside “reenactments” with Jovovich and actors Elias Koteas (playing a therapist friend of Abigail’s), Will Patton (as Nome’s local sheriff), and Hakeem Kae-Kazim (as an expert in Sumerian language) is a fun effect but feels too contrived; it doesn’t do much for someone looking for an immersive viewing experience.
In Nome, Alaska, a small community of over nine thousand, Abigail has noticed that three of her patients share similar symptoms and are experiencing the same hallucinations – seeing owls out their window, for starters. Abigail is trying to advise them on how to proceed in the event of future reoccurrences, but she herself is of a fragile state of mind. (Abigail’s husband was murdered some months ago by unknown forces with her lying beside him.) She is of the belief that she and her patients have been victims of alien abductions and experimentation. Both theories are shot down by the local sheriff (Patton) who sees Abigail as delusional. And when tragedy strikes after two people undergo hypnosis, the sheriff sees Abigail as a potential suspect.
The Fourth Kind could have been a potboiler mystery on whether or not the abductions are happening or if everything that transpires is a figment of Abbey’s deranged mind. However, the inclusion of the “documentary” footage destroys that notion. Abbey appears nuts, but Osunsanmi would rather us believe in the alien theory.
Overall, the combination of documentary and reenactments doesn’t work, despite Jovovich’s and Patton’s best efforts screaming back and forth. It also fails as a psychological drama, or science fiction and horror. Viewers leaving the theater may question the notion of aliens and if they believe, but most likely they’ll be wondering if they’ve been duped again.
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!