Having trouble sleeping? Then The Fourth Kind is probably not the best film to watch. When inhabitants of a remote Alaskan town begin to wake to unexplainable injuries and memory blanks the town’s psychiatrist Dr. Abbey Tyler (played by Milla Jovovich) finds herself on the brink of uncovering an incredible secret – but will she be able to unearth what is affecting her patients before it affects her too?
Recovering from the loss of her husband (brutally murdered while she lay in bed next to him), Dr. Tyler calls on the help of other experts when she begins to find a trend in the problems encountered by the people visiting her. One patient, mere hours after meeting with her, kills his family before killing himself signalling the beginning of a spate of bewildering tragedies. Although its main focus is on alien abduction, The Fourth Kind taps into a primal part of our psyche and injects fear into it. Instead of being a time for rest, sleep poses an indescribable threat to the abductees Dr. Tyler encounters and this, in turn, has a knock-on effect on the viewers.
Widely publicised as being based on true events and containing real footage The Fourth Kind follows in the footsteps of its mocumentary predecessors (such as The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield) and tries to capture the essence of real fear. Its splicing together of apparently ‘real’ footage and dramatisations are perhaps its greatest strength but also one of its biggest downfalls. Although the editing is neatly done and the clever interspersing adds tension to the story it tends to make the film feel like a poor TV documentary rather than a suspense-filled movie. Milla Jovovich’s direct address to the audience at the beginning of the film instantly sets the film on edge whilst the questionable authenticity of the archive footage (the fact that actress Charlotte Milchard is credited with playing the role of the ‘real’ Dr. Tyler – whose bug-eyed appearance and monotonous voice are very convincing – perhaps being the biggest clue to the ‘realness’ of the clips) itself is off-putting. The clips themselves are well-used, it is unfortunately the constant promise that they are real which gets a bit wearing toward the end.
The film may lack the shocks it is billed as containing but it is nonetheless an interesting watch. With its suggestion that Americans are perhaps not so paranoid after all (3% of the U.S. Claim to have been abducted), it does provide some jumpy moments. Some viewers may find the film’s pace and lack of scary moments tiresome but others will revel in its slow unveiling of the secret Nome residents harbour. Although Dr. Tyler’s patients find it impossible to describe what has happened to them their experiences all begin with the unexplainable – and rather eerie – presence of an owl which might just make you think twice about wanting an owl when you go and watch Harry Potter.
Best line: ‘I can’t see what’s in my own mind’
Best bit: When Dr. Tyler visits her second patient
Watch this if you liked; The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity
Although it may be a film about alien abduction not once are aliens actually represented on-screen.