The Fourth Kind review

Is The Fourth Kind a film capable of spooking you out completely? Does Paranormal Activity have anything to worry about?

Well, I have officially seen the worst movie since Twilight. I hate to say that, since I had shockingly high hopes for The Fourth Kind after its excellent trailer and viral marketing campaign. But the end result was, frankly, a terrible, amateurish display that makes Uwe Boll look like Alfred Hitchcock. Director and screenwriter Olatunde Osunsanmi even steals several of Uwe Boll’s signature shots, like the rotating-background-stationary-actor shot and several magical flying spin-camera shots that I’ve definitely seen in Boll movies.

One side is purported to be the real-life Abigail Tyler, and the other side is the Mila Jovovich version of Dr. Tyler, with both talking over one another. It’s terribly distracting, especially when there’s a big difference in acting quality, as there is throughout most of the movie. Even when the (bad) writing is the same on both sides, the difference in delivery is shocking.

Jovovich’s Dr. Tyler is actually pretty good, but the other actress playing the real version of Dr. Tyler is absolutely terrible: monotone in voice, robotic in delivery, and blatantly reading from a script at several points when suspension of disbelief is paramount. In other scenes, especially those involving the various subjects of Dr. Tyler’s research, the documentary side actors are significantly better than their big screen Hollywood versions. The less said about Will Patton’s abysmal Sheriff August the better, as he was a poorly-written character that was beyond saving, regardless of the skill of the actor involved.

It’s bad news for a movie when your big, shocking reveal scenes get laughs. Not tittering, not snickers, but actual guffaws. Yet in The Fourth Kind, several scenes which were intended to shock or horrify just drew laughs from the audience, myself included. Part of it is due to the mediocre special effects, and part of it has to do with the sledgehammer editing. I’ve never seen a movie with this many cuts, blurs, and otherwise pointless special effects inserted generally at random.

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It’s also a very poorly shot movie. There’s a lot of what I like to call television shots, namely, extreme close-ups of faces. I don’t need to see an actor’s pores. Nor do I need lots of interstitial shots of the Alaskan wilderness, the starry night sky, giant-faced owls, or what is supposedly the city of Nome at night. I understand that’s where the commercial breaks will go when this movie hits basic cable, but you don’t need to make it blatantly obvious.

The faux documentary works for horror movies. Paranormal Activity has proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt, as did The Blair Witch Project before it. Basing your movie on a supposed true story also works, if you’re The Amityville Horror. This is more like a brain-damaged Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

However, combining mockumentary footage with based-on-a-true-story-reenactment filmmaking just doesn’t work. At least, it doesn’t work for this movie. The suspension of disbelief needed to pull off the mockumentary is ruined by the actors on the other side of the screen, and the ability of the reenactment to suck the viewer in is irreparably damaged by the presence of the grainy, supposedly real footage opposite it.

The Fourth Kind is cat poop and onions.

Maybe in the hands of a different director and writer, The Fourth Kind would live up to its frightening premise. I mean, alien abduction is scary, but the only thing scary about this movie is that someone gave this director a few million dollars and this is what he came up with.

1 stars

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US correspondent Ron Hogan used to be afraid of aliens, but now he’s just afraid of bad movies. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.


1 out of 5