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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
The 4th Kind
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THE FOURTH KIND - 2009
Gold Circle Films, Dead Crow Productions, Chambara Pictures, Focus Films, Fourth Kind Productions, Universal Pictures
Ratings: USA: PG: 13

Considering all of the rather worthy theatrical quality movies that Universal has released direct to DVD over the past few years, I'm guessing that the only reason this movie made it to wide release in the U.S. is based entirely on Milla Jovovich being in it. I'm also guessing this is the last time her name alone will pull so much weight.

THE FOURTH KIND is an alien abduction tale. Well, sort of, but not really, then again...

For most of us, the very title, THE FOURTH KIND, will have us thinking of a sequel to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, which was also about alien abduction, among other things. That was a great movie and if you are going to hang your coat on a title like that, you at least have to make the effort of making a good movie.

Instead we get Golden Circle Films pulling their standard hack marketing scam (This is based on a TRUE story!) as they did with little success over WHITE NOISE and have now done twice in the same year with THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT and this film. And they plan to do it AGAIN with the 2010 release of A HAUNTING IN GEORGIA (your marketing model isn't a failure if the boss likes it!). How bad they hurt themselves with this is anyone's guess, as Golden Circle is careful to never release their budget figures, but after two weeks in release as of this writing, THE FOURTH KIND hasn't even cleared its distribution costs (about $10 million per 1000 screens in the U.S.).

THE FOURTH KIND begins with Milla Jovovich (RESIDENT EVIL [all], ULTRAVIOLET, A PERFECT GETAWAY) looking right at us and introducing herself as Milla Jovovich. It's here that I have to acknowledge all of the people I know who say Milla Jovovich can't act. I used to think: You never met her, so how do YOU know? I can accept that she may be a poor actress, but even bad actors can act. Not Milla. Unless she decided to play herself as her character from RESIDENT EVIL or ULTRA VIOLET or A PERFECT GETAWAY. I always thought that with the exception of THE FIFTH ELEMENT (directed by the truly gifted and excellent director, Luc Besson), Milla just hooked into a character type, like Jack Nicholson, and went with it. But she didn't. When Milla Jovovich starts talking as herself, you realize that she has always just played herself. She's not acting, merely reciting lines: like John Wayne.*

The 4th Kind - large poster
THIS NEVER HAPPENS IN THE MOVIE

THE FOURTH KIND then breaks into two movies. One is the decent production values film telling the story of Abbey Tyler, a supposedly real psychiatrist who once worked in Nome, Alaska^.

The other is a horribly bad movie which is meant to be actual footage of the real Abbey Tyler, a gaunt, hollow-eyed woman telling her story to THE FOURTH KIND Producer, Screenwriter, Director, and co-story writer, Olatunde Osunsanmi. These two people aren't supposed to be actors and boy do they pull it off. Olatunde sits across from "Abbey" like a stiff Pez dispenser, asking questions with a Mona Lisa smile and glazed eyes. The actress playing Abbey sits there from beginning to end like a traumatized child with a reproachful stare. The whole thing plays like a microbudget Direct to Video cheapie from a 99 cent store. Unfortunately, Olatunde runs these clips constantly throughout the movie, often in split screen, and not once in the editing booth did he look at what he was doing and realize how awful it looked.

Meanwhile, in the main movie, Milla plays Abbey as a recent widow who woke from sleep to see her husband being stabbed to death in bed by Some One. The trauma in her family has caused her daughter Ashley (Mia McKenna-Bruce) to go psychologically blind and her son Ronnie (Raphaël Coleman: IT'S ALIVE [2008]) to distrust her.

She also has terrified patients who come to her because they keep seeing a white owl on their window sill. She decides to start hypnotizing them and via that we are led to believe that the white owl is a psychological metaphor for an alien intruder and these people are being bullied, though not actually abducted, by an alien or aliens who speak ancient Sumerian.

Abbey has a psychologist of her own who is worried about her. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas: THE PROPHECY, APT PUPIL, THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT), doesn't know what to make of Abbey and her problems, and isn't too pleased that she is continuing her practice when she obviously should get some rest herself. He repeatedly asks her to take some time off, perhaps even a sabbatical, but she won't hear of it.

Everything blows up in her face when one of her patients, after a hypnotism session, goes ape and kills his family and himself. Then Sheriff August (Will Patton: THE PUPPET MASTERS, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES) starts gunning for Abbey, asking questions, demanding answers, and making veiled accusations. But Abbey has a few questions of her own for the Sheriff.

Then Abbey gets the on-tape recordings of the aliens speaking ancient Sumerian and what little promise the movie had goes straight into the tank.

You know, I can accept that if there were aliens coming out of the sky and performing weird experiments on us, they'd do it in ways that may defy our own logic. Different human cultures defy reason so why not a xenoform with an alien logic all its own? Further, since much of our modern reason is actually based on repelling our old, yet very much alive, superstitions, why not believe that the oddball things attributed to alien abduction would make all the sense in the world from their perspective?

Yet in THE FOURTH KIND, we are expected to believe that such an incredibly, technologically advanced civilization would travel the mindboggling vast reaches of space to one of the very few planets with intelligent life... and then just showboat? They would speak to us in a human language that's been dead for thousands of years? And in a setting that is clearly different from anything ever seen in ancient Sumeria? They wouldn't notice that?

You know, I can even accept that the aliens would be sadistic, or at least appear sadistic to us. No doubt our pets call us dickweeds when they get their nose shoved in their own excrement as punishment. But THE FOURTH KIND asks us to accept that these highly, technologically advanced beings would come to us, run around our bed at night, tormenting and yelling at us, speaking in a language we can't understand, and when we finally do decipher it, they sound like some raging drunken dimwit?

I'm not saying that, somehow, someway such a thing couldn't be pulled off, but Writer, Director, Producer, Actor Olatunde Osunsanmi, sure as hell can't do it.

1 ShriekGirl

Shriek Girls
This review copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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