Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Fourth Kind (Review)

     I attended a matinee showing of "The Fourth Kind" because I didn't want to risk paying the full night/weekend ticket price on what might be a less than stellar movie.  I still paid too much.  I want my money, and that hour and a half of my life, back.

     "The Fourth Kind" is Hollywood's (failed) attempt to make a 'found footage' movie.  It's a mix of movie footage and so called 'real' archival footage.  I actually thought that this technique would have made "Paranormal Activity" a much better movie, and it might have.  "The Fourth Kind", however, only manages to make the entire movie seem completely unreal by constantly trying to convince you that it is real.

     The movie begins with Milla Jovovich breaking the fourth wall and lying to the audience by telling them that the archival footage in the movie is real.  It quickly becomes apparent that it is not.  Jovovich plays Dr. Abbey Tyler,(who is not a real person, despite what faked web sites tell you,) a psychologist in Alaska, who is continuing her late husband's work with people having sleep problems.  She quickly stumbles into the possibility that these people are being abducted by aliens.  Under hypnosis, her patients discover the truth of what is happening and begin to go nuts.  This is where the movie lost me.  We are treated to, so called, actual dashboard camera footage of a standoff in a house where one of these abductees is holding his family hostage.  In poorly shot, grainy footage, we see him shoot his wife, both children, who are across the room, and himself, in a matter of seconds, and the police don't manage to fire a single shot.  If this had actually happened, it would have been all over the news.  The cable news outlets would have been giddy over actual footage of someone killing three other people and himself.  Of course, this didn't really happen, but the movie is so incredibly persistent in trying to convince you that it did all actually happen, that one simply loses the ability to suspend disbelief.  We are continually treated to split screens of movie footage and 'real' footage, audio tape recordings where the actors and the tape are heard almost simultaneously, and barely audible, subtitled audio, all in an attempt to get you to believe that it's all real.  "The Fourth Kind" beats you over the head with with it's attempt to make you believe that the found footage is real but it only manages to destroy any illusion of reality that might normally be created by a movie.  The acting is poor, the direction is poor, the story goes nowhere, the characters are unbelievable, and the plot is based entirely on you believing that what you are seeing is, somehow, actual reality.  On top of that, there is nothing actually scary about anything that happens in this movie.  The 'taped' evidence is not scary.  There is no tension.  When something happens on tape that might be frightening, the tape, conveniently, goes out.  Of course, they even fail at the tried and true method of, what you don't see is scarier than what you do see, by actually showing you a bit of something completely unbelievable as the tape is flickering in and out.  They show you just enough so you can't believe what's happening, but not enough to actually create any fright.

     The only way this movie is scary is if you actually believe that aliens really are abducting people, nightly, all over the world, and everyone, except for a handful of people in Nome, Alaska, are blissfully unaware.  If you believe that, then this film might actually frighten you, (and you might actually frighten me,) otherwise, it's an hour and a half of bad movie making and oversell of a poorly thought out concept.

1 comment:

  1. I spent $5.75 so I could be exposed to Universal's attempt at a viral marketing campaign. I'm more than angry, I'm insulted.