The Fourth Kind

  The Fourth Kind
  Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Corey Johnson, Enzo Cilenti, Elias Koteas

  3.5 out of 5 stars
  Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

"The Fourth Kind" is a different kind of E.T. experience. It's been advertised as "containing genuine disturbing documented archival footage" alongside dramatizations of hypnotized patients channeling ancient tongues, a graphic murder/suicide and a possible glimpse of an alien abduction.

The story begins with footage of the "real life" Dr. Abigail Tyler being interviewed by the film's writer and director, Olatunde Osunsanmi. Tyler (a hollow-eyed, skeletal psychologist who bears a striking resemblance to Celine Dion - therefore, she must be from another planet), unspools a tale that begins in Nome, Alaska with her husband's murder and ends with a second, more bizarre family tragedy. Somewhere in mid-sentence the interview dissolves into a scene with Mila Jovovich ("Resident Evil," "The Fifth Element") portraying Tyler.

Tyler flashes back to the time when she began putting her life back together after finding her husband lying next to her one morning stabbed through the chest. Her husband's murder was such a shock to her daughter, (name), that she went blind, and her son, (name), hold's Tyler responsible for his father's death and his sister's psychosomatic condition.

Returning to her practice, Tyler begins treating three paranoid patients. Separately, each patient tells her an identical story... They wake up at 3 a.m., finding themselves being observed by an owl.

Under hypnosis, Tommy Fisher is the first to realize that what's watching him is not really an owl at all. He cracks under the strain of the revelation. Taking his family hostage at gunpoint, Tommy demands the police summon Dr. Tyler so she can translate the words the "owl" has imprinted in his memory. But Tyler can't provide a translation to the words or calm Tommy down. He shots his family, them himself in front of Tyler and the police.

Tyler's actions anger Sheriff August (Will Patton, a standout in "Remember the Titans" and "No Way Out"), who's been stymied in his attempts to find out what's been causing the increased number of murders and disappearances in the area. When a second patient, Scott Stracinsky, begs Tyler to put him under in order to release his inner turmoil, Tyler, calls in her friend Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas, formerly the worst actor of all time) and Dr. Awolowa Odusami (Hakeem Kae Kazim, a great name for a genie, not an actor) to assist her.

Scott reacts violently to being hypnotized, his body thrashing and levitating from the bed as he spouts threats to humanity in ancient Sumerian. The session leaves Scott paralyzed from the neck down and will leave you terrified from the neck up.

Tyler's irresponsible behavior pushes August to the brink of arresting her, but an equally skeptical Campos offers enough murky corroboration to keep her from wearing stripped pajamas. ("I was there! You can't arrest her for something you don't understand!"). August acquiesces. Placing Tyler under what amounts to house arrest, he stations an officer outside her home.

At 3 a.m., the officer is startled by a bright light that appears over Tyler's house. Turning on his video camera, he films a large shadow passing overhead. (This is supposed to be part of the actual archival footage, kids.) Naturally, the strange doings cause so much interference the visual is obscured by static at the most opportune moment, but the audio still works, so we get to hear the astounded officer shout "Oh my God! There's something taking them out of the house!"    

When August arrives, a hysterical Tyler greets him with more bad news. August acts to save her son by shipping him off to child services. ("You've run out of all the good will I've got," a flustered August utters.) With her life dissolving, Tyler feels she has no choice. She asks Drs. Campos and Odusami to hypnotize her in order to find out what's really going on...

You'll have to decide if the documented footage is real or not. Jovovich introduces the film as herself with teasing lines like "Every dramaticized scene in this movie is supported by either archival audio, video or it was related by Dr. Tyler during extensive interviews with the director. In the end what you believe is yours to decide." I was bothered by a nagging question (well, not just one)... If the producers had genuine footage of an actual abduction and interviews with the real Dr. Tyler, then why did they need actors?

Jovovich is credible as Dr. Tyler, although no matter how much she dresses down in L.L. Bean plaid shirts and jeans, she still looks like she belongs on the catwalk instead of walking in mukluks.

After decades of ruinous performances, Elias Koteas seems to have found a niche playing Tyler's well-intentioned, non-believing friend and mentor. Will Patton's performance as Sheriff August is thankless, but vital. August could have been a one dimensional adversary for Tyler, but Patton balances his frustrations with his unsaid sympathy for a woman who's lost her husband, is about to lose her children and seems to be losing her mind.

The archival footage in which Scott jerks violently into an upright position, his mouth wide open, barfing Sumerian, is the film's defining moment. I've always subscribed to the theory that if there are aliens out there watching us they haven't come in peace and will likely leave humanity in pieces. "The Fourth Kind" bursts the big-headed buddy-buddy foolery of "E.T." and movies like it, re-establishing spacemen as angry extraterrestrials.

Real or not, "The Fourth Kind" will make you shiver and check the trees for owls.

1 Comment

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