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  Publicity Stills of
"The Fourth Kind"
(Courtesy of Encore Films)

Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Elias Koteas, Corey Johnson, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Daphne Alexander, Enzo Cilenti, Alisha Seaton, Mia McKenna-Bruce
RunTime: 1 hr 38 mins
Released By: Shaw & Encore Films
Rating: PG (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Official Website:

Opening Day: 31 December 2009


In 1972, a scale of measurement was established for alien encounters. 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. This encounter has been the most difficult to document-until now. Set in modern-day Nome, Alaska, where--mysteriously since the 1960s--a disproportionate number of the population has been reported missing every year. Despite multiple FBI investigations of the region, the truth has never been discovered. Here in this remote region, psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler began videotaping sessions with traumatized patients and unwittingly discovered some of the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever documented.

Movie Review:

Milla Jovovich walks up to the camera in the movie’s opening scene, introducing herself as “actress Milla Jovovich” and telling you in the most solemn tone she can summon that this movie is based on real events. She also goes on to assert that whatever dramatizations the movie makes is supported by real-life archival footage; and warns us that some of what we are about to see is “extremely disturbing”.

Let it be known from the outset that nothing of what the movie presents is true. There is no such psychologist from the Alaskan town of Nome that has been studying alien abductions or even still been abducted by aliens as she asserts in the film. Yes, the town has had a couple of disappearances and yes, the FBI has stepped in to investigate some of these cases- but the cause of these disappearances was never even suspected to be anything close to alien abductions.

So really, “The Fourth Kind” is at best a movie that tries to be like “The Blair Witch Project” or “Paranormal Activity”, filmed in a quasi-documentary style to try to fool you into believing in the veracity of the proceedings. But there is a big difference between this film and the latter two- both “Blair Witch” and “Paranormal Activity” used a simple, yet effective no-frills filming style to convey the illusion of authenticity; “The Fourth Kind” tries to do so with much less flair using incessant split-screens of “real” and filmed footage.

Yes, whenever there is supposedly something scary going on, director Olatunde Osunsanmi divides the screen into two, sometimes four, playing the “real”, raw videotaped footage with the actors’ supposed reconstructions. Most of these consist of Dr Abigail Tyler’s interviews with her clients, who claim to be woken up in the middle of the night to find an owl staring into their bedroom window. It’s not an owl apparently, and when Tyler engages in hypnosis, her clients are suddenly seized by an unknown force that causes them to levitate or contort their bodies awkwardly.

Oh, when this happens, some electronic interference is also bound to affect the videotaping of the events, so what you end up seeing are just some fuzzy lines and the occasional blurry images. Apparently this happens to both the “real” as well as the reconstructed footage, so having an additional point-of-view (thanks to the split screen) doesn’t actually help you to see more of what transpired. What transpires then is that there’s nothing really consequential you can see to jolt you in your seat.

To compensate for that, director Olatunde Osunsanmi cranks up the sound effects to a screeching high, with some help from Jovovich’s powerful lungs and composer Atli Orvarsson’s annoying score. It will shock you all right, enough to wake you from the movie’s sleep-inducing stupor- but definitely not in the way you hope a good horror movie will. That disappointment continues in the movie’s supposed big reveal when the aliens pay a visit to the nosy doctor probing into their extraterrestrial affairs, for what hope you had of catching a glimpse of the aliens is lost in a flash of white and yes, more fuzzy lines.

But what truly takes the cake is when director Osunsanmi appears as himself in a Chapman University interview with the “real” Dr Abigail Tyler relating her alleged true story and also right at the end, telling you that “in the end, what you believe is up to you”. Since it’s unlikely Osunsanmi is completely deluded, he’s probably just plain manipulative. But honestly no one likes to be fooled, especially when it’s done with so little finesse. So the real question is- what’s the point really, when none of it is real?

Movie Rating:

("The Fourth Kind" sacrifices story, buildup, and any real scares to convince you that something totally fictional is in fact real.)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. Paranormal Activity (2009)

. District 9 (2009)

. Knowing (2009)

. The X-Files: I Want To Believe (2008)

. The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

. The Invasion (2007)

. War of the Worlds DVD (2006)

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