Fourth Kind, The (2009)
Reviewed by Buz "Danger" Wallick
Starring Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Corey Johnson, Elias Koteas
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
In the 1970’s a scale of measurement was established for alien encounters. The First Kind is a UFO sighting, an encounter of the Second Kind is when evidence is collected, and when contact is made with extraterrestrials, it is called an encounter of the Third Kind. An encounter of the Fourth Kind involves abduction and thus is what the film The Fourth Kind is about.
The story follows the supposedly true and disturbing story of Dr. Abigail Tyler (portrayed by Milla Jovovich), a psychologist in Nome, Alaska, who begins to notice some similarities between her patients' symptoms. It seems they all have the same exact recurring dream: They wake up in the middle of the night and see an owl perched in front of their bedroom window, staring at them.
Just writing that sends a shiver down my spine. I’m going to try and keep this review as spoiler free as I can so as to not give away any surprises, but first let me just say this is an amazingly unique, well crafted film from beginning to end.
The Fourth Kind opens with Jovovich telling us that the movie we are about to watch is all based on true documented events. The narrative is split up among a sit-down interview with the real Dr. Tyler and director Olatunde Osunsanmi, film reenactments, and archive footage. And honestly, the archive footage is more terrifying than anything they shot for the film.
First-time director Olatunde Osunsanmi and his director of photography Lorenzo Senatore put together a beautifully shot film. The cinematography in this flick is breathtaking at times, particularly the wide aerial photography of the Alaskan terrain. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.
The editing between “real” footage and the film is done very well, though at times it is a little jarring. But when they show you side-by-side panels of the real footage with the film, you can’t take your eyes off the screen.
Speaking of which, let’s discuss the archive footage. Now I can’t say for certain if all this stuff is real or fake, so I won’t say any more. What I will say, though, is that fake or not, the “real” footage packs enough punch to chill you to the bone. There are things that happen in the film that is absolutely disturbing just to hear about, let alone see footage of. Then again, there’s some stuff they show that is supposed to be “actual” footage that's really hard not to call shenanigans on. If everything they showed in the movie was indeed “real”, then The Fourth Kind just proved the existence of aliens and that it’s medically possible for people’s mouths to open wider than their heads. Either way, it’s fucking scary.
As far as the performances go, Milla Jovovich is excellent as the widowed Tyler. She is able to play a grieving mother trying to raise her children and a determined doctor trying to figure out what’s going on simultaneously. Elias Koteas and Will Patton turn in great supporting roles as well, and Hakeem Kae Kazim as the Somalian history expert is awesome.
Overall, I dug the hell out of The Fourth Kind. While it does get a little ridiculous and over-the-top at times, it’s a well crafted docu-drama-esque film that takes itself seriously, builds tension, and scares the shit out of you through and through. Whether it’s true or fake, really isn't the point. If it’s true, then holy shit! We’re all going to die from alien abductions in the near future. If it’s fake, then the filmmakers figured out a brilliant and original way to scare audiences, and the actors touted to be real people deserve Oscars.
And a piece of advice for everyone reading this: If you ever see an owl staring at you through your bedroom window, shoot that motherfucker in the face.
4 out of 5
Ready to decide for yourselves if it's real or fake?
Buy your The Fourth Kind tickets in advance at Fandango.com.
Discuss The Fourth Kind in our forums!