This review contains major spoilers.
The Fourth Kind, recounts a real case having occurred in Nome, Alaska, regarding a string of unsolved deaths and missing persons. A psychologist, Dr. Abigail Tyler (portrayed by Milla Jovovich) is believed to be on the brink of unearthing the foundations of this seemingly inexplicable mystery whilst treating her patients, discovering potential evidence of the fourth kind – also known as alien abduction.
Despite the production effort put into this film in attempting to convince the viewers this real-life tragedy was linked to actual alien abductions, a quick google search clearly informs this is not the case. Now, I watched this film some time ago, and I have to embarrassingly admit that at the time of viewing I was persuaded – largely in thanks to the film’s use of apparent real-life footage alongside the film – this link between the ex-residents of Nome and aliens might have been a legitimate possibility. Are you all picturing this guy right now? Because I am:
And, once again, I digress, thanks to the borderline omnipotent power of The Meme. Stick to the review, Manpreet. Anyway, as I was saying – yeah, it’s not aliens. Much to naive teenage Manpreet’s disappointment, this flick is more or less as made-up as every other generic horror – and so, back I went to being a firm Hater of the horror genre.
Tricky efforts from the creators aside – including a jazzed up introduction from the film-makers and actors informing ourselves of how real it all is, whilst also telling us what we believe is up to us, so as to avoid taking any responsibility for said deception for their own gain – this is pretty much a horror film like any other. Of course, as stated above, after my initial viewing I was entirely otherwise convinced and so had a completely different viewpoint. Here’s a quick summary of what I might have said about this film a few years ago:
“The Fourth Kind is easily the best horror film I have seen. I’ve never particularly cared for the horror genre up until witnessing this raw re-telling of missing residents in a small Alaskan town. From start-to-finish, an eerie atmosphere encapsulates the true story of Dr. Abigail Tyler and her distressing discovery over the course of her personal work involving hypnosis, during which she comes to the stark realisation that alien abductions have been the collective root cause behind various missing person cases. The use of real-life footage alongside scenes throughout the film provides for an authentic feeling of terror and disbelief on an otherworldly level, as we witness what we are told is actual real-life video evidence of the film’s proposed events – a combination like nothing else I’d experienced in a film up until now. Is this inconceivably tenable proof that alien life exists?”
And, here’s what I have to say about it in the present day:
“Well, I wasn’t wrong when I said inconceivable. A film like this just goes to show that, so long as you’ve a well-known actress and supposed real-life footage played alongside duplicate footage from the said actress, any naive mind can be tricked into thinking this film has some truth to it. Many of the local residents of Nome, Alaska were said to have been unhappy with this film’s portrayal of the town’s event – and rightly so. The Fourth Kind mocks the real tragic occurrence as well as the victims and families involved, with its melodramatically fanciful take on this real-life tragedy. Imagine your loved one going missing, only to find a film had been made about the event wherein the creators are intent on making audiences believe aliens kidnapped them in their sleep.”
Despite it all being a load of baloney in hindsight, the film was, admittedly, reasonably effective in coming across as genuinely scary at times, as a horror film generally should. In particular, the scene which finally shows an alien abduction happening at 03:33am before it’s wiped from the subject’s memory, combined with the simultaneous appearance of a spooky owl on said occasion proves, for a creepy point of reference throughout the film, and something a fellow clock owner such as myself couldn’t help but think about after watching the film. I found myself looking at my own clock at 03:33 one sleepless morning, feeling genuine terror as I wondered whether I’d experience an alien abduction which I’d later have no recollection of. Then again, I was a naive teenager who probably believed the earth was flat, too. I’m kidding – I was never that far gone.
And, to sum up: though reasonably convincing and resourcefully portrayed at times, The Fourth Kind is an insult to both the real-life people concerned and their memory. Using a real tragedy, the films creates an eerie atmosphere which, had it not been for its impertinent and almost sardonic tone, might have made for a relatively respectful watch.