Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Fourth Kind

Before you go on and read the rest of this review on The Fourth Kind, just a warning that there are going to be spoilers within.

Okay, with that out of the way, I’ll get into The Fourth Kind and let you know how I felt about it.

Going into this film, I had no knowledge of what was it about besides what I had seen in TV spots and trailers. It looked pretty good and I’ve always enjoyed Milla Jovovich in every part I’ve seen her play. But what really hooked me was the part in the trailer where she’s looking right into the camera and says that she’s playing the part of the main character, talking about how real footage will be added to the film and that some of it may be upsetting. I also had gotten the idea that it was about alien abduction, as they go through what each “kind” means. First is sighting, second is evidence, third is contact and the fourth is abduction. Without a doubt, I had to see this movie.

So, as usual, I didn’t go onto the Internet to find out any facts about the validity of the film and just went in with the facts presented to me by Milla herself. I went straight to the movie theater and this movie scared the crap out of me. Now, I usually have a high tolerance for horror films and rarely get scared this much. The reason for my fright was that the video footage they showed throughout the film was upsetting.

With all that said, let me get into the film.

After the preamble by Milla Jovovich, the film starts off with a video of a Dr. Abigail Tyler as she’s being interviewed and analyzed by a colleague of hers. As it goes on, the screen splits with Jovovich and Elias Koteas acting the interview out word for word. At one point, the screen is fully on the actors and they go on with the scene. Very often throughout this film, the direction resorts to this structure as they incorporate the video footage alongside the acted out scenes side by side on a split screen. At first this had gotten on my nerves, but then I relished the scenes and really wanted to see the video footage. As the scene goes on, we see that Tyler is under hypnosis and we see a flashback of her husband as he’s murdered in their bed; but we never see who’s stabbing him.

The movie goes on and we see that Milla Jovovich, playing the part of Dr Abigail Tyler, is a psychologist with a number of patients she sees in the small Alaskan town of Nome. The surrounding nature of the town makes it impossible to drive into from afar and aircraft is needed to enter the little city, which gives you an idea of the isolation one must feel while living there.

We get a small montage of Dr. Tyler interviewing her patients and they seem to have trouble sleeping, always seeing an owl at their window. The filmmakers show the representation of this owl at times and I must admit—it is freaky-looking.

As the sessions go on with her patients, Dr. Tyler asks one of them if they’d like to be hypnotized to see what they can remember. One of them—Tommy—agrees and they go forward with the hypnosis.

Again, the film shows both the acted out film alongside the video footage and it gets to you. Tommy starts remembering something about the owl and how it got into his house. Both the man in the film and the man in the video scream out and appear frightened as they back up onto the couch, falling off and breaking a side table in the process. Tommy wakes up and seems calm and serene, telling Dr. Tyler he’d like to talk about it at their next session. She agrees and he leaves. But later, there’s a police dispatch that informs the authorities that there’s a domestic violence call at Tommy’s house. When they get there, Tommy tells the cops over the phone that he wants to speak to Dr. Tyler. Again, we have video footage from the police cruiser that captured the scene on video, showing Tommy in his house and holding his wife and kids hostage. When Tyler gets there, Tommy yells out to her about some gibberish language and what he remembered (which is still confusing), then shoots his wife and children before shooting himself dead.
Seeing all this is exciting but leaves you wanting to know just what the hell is going on and what memory would make this guy want to commit murder-suicide. Of course, the sheriff, played by Will Patton, interrogates Tyler, wanting to know what drove this guy to do what he did after his last contact was her.

As the film goes on, we have a few other hypnosis sessions, one with another patient of Tyler’s that results in him being paralyzed and the other with Tyler herself after she discovers an audio recording of her abduction.

Another element of this film included the director of the film interviewing the real Abigail Tyler, looking sickly and haunted.

The film as a whole was very interesting and intriguing, with a few shocks and frights thrown in to get your blood pumping. It was even sad when, at the end, the final interview with Tyler showed how sad and defeated she was.

All through this movie I kept telling myself, I’ve got to look this up online to see if those video footages were real. Well, what I found was more (or less) than what I had bargained for. Turns out, everything was fake. The video footage was fake, the audio footage was fake, the recorded sessions and police recordings were staged…there’s not even a real Dr. Abigail Tyler.

So after seeing Milla Jovovich tell me at the beginning of this film that it’s based on a true story with the actual video footage, I found out she lied to me. All the people that I saw in this film, whom I began caring about and was sad for, were fictional.

But you know what? My anger turned to gratification for the fact that I thought it was real, because that’s what made this film frightening and interesting. In fact, when I ponder the thought that if I saw this movie knowing it was a fraud, I ask myself, Would it be as good?  I think I might’ve found it boring. So this is a tough one to critique.

As for the acting, pretty good and intense, with Will Patton playing his part a little over-the-top, but good. I’ve always liked Elias Koteas in all the roles that he’s played. As a whole, the cast was spot on and made it believable and I don’t think they needed to add the video footage to make this a truly frightening alien abduction flick.

So what is my final “bit” on The Fourth Kind? Well, as I’d said, the acting is great, the story interesting—but confusing at times, the cast was astral and perfect, so I can’t complain there. Where I can complain is the fact I was duped by the director and star, feeding me that line in the beginning and telling me the footage was real. But at the same time, I was scared when I heard the alien voices and saw what they caused the people’s bodies to do under hypnosis. I guess I might watch the film on DVD when it’s released and see if I’ll like it then. Otherwise, view at your own risk.

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