The Fourth Kind wants you to believe that it is simply presenting evidence to you. It even goes so far as to start the film with star Milla Jovovich talking directly to us, telling us that this is a dramatized version of events that really did happen in October of the year 2000. It’s supported by a bunch of real footage and interviews, which will be interspersed between the actors. Conveniently, this footage merges almost perfectly with the newly shot footage to tell this story.
The reason for this, and maybe this ruins the façade right away, is that it isn’t really archived footage, and it’s not really a true story. Oh, some people have disappeared from the town of Nome, Alaska, but the FBI has chalked most of these disappearances up to alcohol and the tough climate. This film wants you to believe that people disappear because aliens are involved, and uses this falsified footage in order to convince you of such. The final lines of the film tell you that you get to choose what to believe. I believe that if you’re going to make an alien film, you had better show me some aliens.
After this direct address, we progress to watch Jovovich playing her character, psychiatrist Abbey Tyler. Her husband has died — she believes murder, the police believe suicide — and she’s struggling to accept this. She interviews three people, all of whom claim the same thing: Their sleep is being interrupted in the middle of the night, and owls stare at them for hours after they’re awake. Something is definitely happening in this town of approximately 9,000, although, as I’ve already stated, aliens take the brunt of the blame.
That’s not without good reason though. At one point, we see a tiny bit of a spaceship, before the “found footage” camera decides to die. This happens all the time, in fact, whenever something interesting or costly might take place. Anything actually involving aliens is either completely removed, or too blurry to tell what’s going on. There isn’t a single money shot here, nor any that would actually cost a lot to produce. Everything that could be costly is removed because of those terrible cameras that Abbey brings with her everywhere.
This is convenient for another reason too, though. See, nobody actually believes Abbey when she tells them that aliens are behind the disappearances, and that she was abducted herself. Her disbelievers are her colleague, Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas), and the police Sheriff (Will Patton). Without video footage, all they have is her word. Since she’s claiming something that a lot of people would find unbelievable, is makes sense that doubt is the most common reaction to her claims.
Whenever someone gets hypnotized in The Fourth Kind, something bad happens. They’ll claim something is coming for them, and then their body will spasm in interesting ways. Afterward, something worse happens, and since Abbey is the one to put them under, she gets blamed. I didn’t buy that for one second, especially the second time considering two other people were in the room when she performed the hypnotism, and saw her “victim” come out of it. Anything done after that point should not be the hypnotist’s fault.
In order to truly appreciate The Fourth Kind, you need to have an open mind, and be willing to ignore the fact that it’s all a big hoax. The filmmakers actually went to a great deal of effort trying to convince people that there was archived footage, tapes, interviews, and what have you, so that you’ll believe their story. But the thing is, even if you’re convinced by the film, you’ll want to find out more. Are you really going to let a movie tell you all the information you need to know about a possible alien abduction? Of course not! So you’d do research, find out it’s all fake, and then realize that you wasted your time watch this picture.
If I feel anything after seeing The Fourth Kind, that’s what it is. I feel like I wasted my time. The runtime, which isn’t all that long, would have bene much shorter if we didn’t watch the same thing twice fairly often, (the “real” footage, and then the “acted” one), and since it isn’t actually real, we feel cheated out of our time. Or at least I did. It’s a stylistic choice to do this so frequently, but it just wasn’t as effective as it needed to be.
And then there’s the point where our intelligence gets insulted. I’m not talking about how we’re expected to be gullible enough to believe that all of this really happened. No, I’m talking about how many times text comes onto our screen and tells us what’s happening. Every time an interview clip plays, we’re told. This carries through the entire time. We get used to the “real” Abbey’s voice early on, so do we really need text appearing on-screen to tell us this in the final few scenes? I don’t think so.
I think that if The Fourth Kind brought something to the table other than a falsified “true” story, I’d be okay with it. If it was actually scary, if the story was one worth telling, or even if the aliens were interesting, it might be worth a watch. But none of that happens. Jovovich tells us that “some of what you’re about to see is extremely disturbing” in the opening monologue. That’s a lie too, because we don’t actually get to see anything. It’s hard to be particularly frightened when all we get is a snowy image on a camera with intermittent screams.
In the end, The Fourth Kind is not worth a watch, especially if you’ve heard any of the “hoax” talk before you watch it (and you have if you’ve read this review). I don’t think that matters though, because even if you’re fooled, you’ll want to learn more, and you’ll discover the truth anyway, which will likely cause you to have an unfavorable opinion of this movie. There’s just nothing here apart from being a “true” story to keep you engaged.