Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Fourth Kind

Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.
2009. Rated PG-13, 98 minutes.
Milla Jovovich
Will Patton
Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Elias Koteas
Raphael Coleman
Mia Mckenna-Bruce
Eric Loren
Corey Johnson
Enzo Cilenti
Daphne Alexander

Dr. Abigail Tyler (Jovovich…and the actual Dr. Tyler) suspects that the abnormal amount of unexplained disappearances in Nome, Alaska are due to alien abductions. This is supposedly based on “actual case studies” and interviews with Dr. Tyler.

It’s a fascinating subject. Though many of the dramatic events can’t quite be called evidence, they are compelling side-effects, allegedly. During these scenes, the energy level is ramped up and much of what we see is disturbing. Will Patton gives us the film’s best performance as Sheriff August. His skepticism grounds the movie, keeping it from completely coming apart at the seams.

Director Olatunde Osunsanmi made a decision that absolutely sinks his movie. He tries to make a documentary and a dramatization about the same story, simultaneously. We’re often shown video footage, reportedly of actual events, alongside scenes of actors re-enacting the exact same occurrences in split-screen. It’s a distracting style in which each half of the screen subtracts from the other. Why do we need Milla Jovovich when we have the real Dr. Tyler? Instead of being taken in, maybe even persuaded by what’s going on, we’re busy picking out differences in the actor’s performance and the real thing. Incidentally, this is why I believe Will Patton’s performance is the movie’s best. His is one of the few not repeatedly juxtaposed with the genuine article. The bottom line is this should’ve been either a documentary or a dramatization, not both.

If you’re a conspiracy theorist who not only believes in alien abductions but also that the government is going out of its way to cover them up, you will find plenty of fodder for your cannon, here. The “actual” footage we see is interesting, though some of it is of questionable validity. It suddenly becomes too grainy or otherwise unwatchable at appropriate moments. However, the style makes it a frustrating watch. We can never get settled into what we’re watching and therefore can’t feel the horror it wants us to. Nor can we reach the conclusion it wants us to. Nothing here will change your mind, one way or another.

MY SCORE: 4/10

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