Starring: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton
Directed by: Olatunde Osunsanmi (“Within”)
Written by: Olatunde Osunsanmi (“Within”)
Marketing gimmicks are getting more and more intricate as Hollywood studios attempt to cash in on what “The Blair Witch Project” did a decade ago. Riding on the coattails of the low-budget albeit highly intense “Paranormal Activity” is “The Fourth Kind.” Like its predecessors, the thriller declares the authenticity of its amateur footage and reels in its audience with promises of exclusive video of inexplicable and frightening occurrences all caught on camera. What you’re left with, however, is a mockumentary thriller that obscures its true intentions to the brink of corniness.
In “The Fourth Kind,” there are no witches picking off filmmakers in the woods or evil entities causing a couple many sleepless nights. Instead, the film, which bills itself as being “based on actual case studies” is more extraterrestrial than it is paranormal. Set in Nome, Alaska, Milla Jovovich plays Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist who uncovers odd similarities between some of her patients who she thinks are experiencing sleep paralysis.
What these patients are actually enduring, however, is much more difficult to diagnose. Through “real footage” of Abigail’s sessions with her patients, which are edited quite well with “Unsolved Mysteries”-type reenactments, we watch as she tries to make sense of what is happening in her small Alaskan town. Why can’t any of her patients remember what happens when they awake at night? Why are they all seeing the same ominous owl outside their bedroom window?
All signs point to alien abduction although Abigail and others close to the case are hesitant to say it. The testimony flows freely from the mouth of the “real” Dr. Abigail Tyler who basically narrates the film via an interview conducted by “Fourth Kind” director/writer Olatunde Osunsanmi.
Surprisingly, the scenes that will make the most impression with mainstream audiences will probably be the over-stylized ones featuring characters levitating from their beds and screaming out in terror. It’s not so much the creepy imagery Osunsanmi shifts around on screen that makes the thriller unsettling. The film creates uneasiness based on what you allow yourself to see through the static-filled climaxes. If you let your mind outthink your better judgment, “The Fourth Kind” is worthy of a few shudders.
Still, there’s only so much Osunsanmi can do for the narrative before the few scares on the surface start fading. “The Fourth Kind” spends all it’s time and effort pushing us to believe, it forgets that the true mark of a convincing thriller should go beyond mere collections of tricks and conspiracy theories.
Hmmmm — I’m heading out to see it tonight, but I’m wondering what to REALLY believe! 🙂