Review: The Fourth Kind by Jamie

Alien Abduction. It’s a very serious problem which troubles crazy people on a daily basis. Or at least it used to. I mean, does anyone really care about the whole alien abduction phenomenon since ‘The X-Files’ went off the air? Haven’t we grown as a species and, apart from a few fringe die hard believers, kind of moved on from that ridiculous belief which once seemed so prevalent?

Now, as I’ve stated before I used to be a believer in practically any paranormal bullshit that came along. I was an atheist but not yet a sceptic. The real big thing for me though was the Greys. Something about them just grabbed my attention when I was younger. I was even pretty convinced that my brother was abducted by aliens because he had a fear of masks (A common complaint amongst those who believe they’ve been abducted…. God, I wish I didn’t know that) and because he used to talk really loudly in his sleep. Not pleasant talk either, more aggressive and terrified.

Even know I have a soft spot for the big-eyed bastards. There’s just something about them that really gets to me and kind of still creeps me out. I remember how much pictures of them or seeing them in films used to creep me out. I’d always have to look away when ever they appeared in a magazine, book or on the screen but I’d always have to look again even though I knew it scared me. Yeah I was weird.

This is my probin’ hand, bitch.

Then came my great sceptical awakening. Still not sure entirely when it happened but certainly in my very early twenties, which kind of saddens me that I spent so much time and money pursuing my interest in the paranormal. To be fair having all this knowledge about the weird things people believe probably gave me the tools to be a better sceptic so swings and roundabouts I suppose. But yeah, one day I just stopped believing in all of it. I was an atheist because I didn’t see any conclusive evidence for the existence for a God and I kind of realised that I should probably apply the same rule to all these paranormal beliefs I had and, on further investigation, none of them held up to that kind of scrutiny.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that aliens definitely don’t exist. On the contrary, I think it perfectly reasonable to think that somewhere beyond the reaches of our pale blue dot, life exists but not because of that same old argument ‘Well, it’d be arrogant to assume we’re the only intelligent life in the universe.’ It’s not arrogant because we’re the only example we know of. It’s a pretty small sample to draw from. Still the fact that life has evolved on this planet and given the vastness of the universe, it’s perfectly acceptable to speculate that it’s probably happened somewhere else.

The idea that aliens have actually visited us, on the other hand, is a totally different kettle of fish. The physics involved with long term space travel just make it seem really, really unlikely. Not necessarily impossible but really, really unlikely.

Anyway, that’s my background with alien abduction and thoughts on it now. I suppose we should probably take a look at this little movie also dealing with this particular subject, ‘The Fourth Kind’.

Let’s begin with the movie’s biggest flaw. It starts off with Mila Jovovich appearing on screen and explaining that the film is based on actual events and dramatizations of those events will be interspersed with actual recordings that were taken at the time. This often takes the form of a split-screen with one side showing the dramatization and the other showing the ‘real life’ recordings. The main problem with this gimmick is that it’s fucking annoying. I don’t need two people saying the exact same dialogue. True, the gimmick does provide some of the better parts of the film later on but that is just the “actual” recordings played by themselves. The whole split-screen thing is just kind of intrusive, especially when they start fucking around with it and splitting the screen into multiple little boxes and they start moving all around the screen.

The worst example of this is during a fairly tense scene. A man who has uncovered some rather disturbing memories involving alien intruders has decided to hold his family hostage with a pistol. Mila Jovovich, playing the man’s psychiatrist, is trying to talk him out of killing anyone and the tension starts to build and them these squares just form and start moving all over the place and it kind of ruins the mood.

To be fair, that’s probably the worst thing I can say about this film. The problem is though that it happens a lot. What could have been quite a tense, fluid abduction thriller is constantly having it’s mood broken.

Now the film kind of plays out like an episode of ‘The X-Files’ just without Mulder and Scully. Which is no bad thing for me… except for the no Mulder and Scully thing. That kind of sucked. But yeah, ignoring the ridiculous gimmick, it’s actually a fairly well-paced thriller with a few generally creepy and outright scary moments.

There are a couple of scenes in particular in which a couple of characters are possessed by an alien who speaks ancient Sumerian that I actually found kind of difficult to watch alone by myself at night in a hotel. The noise the people make before the aliens begin speaking through them is pretty fucking horrific and, though it’s difficult to make out because the recording becomes distorted, something happens to the peoples faces during this possession that just reminded me of the final scene in ‘Rec’ which I will maintain is one of the creepiest fucking scenes ever put to film.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this film. I was thinking it was gonna another shitty, boring film based on “true” events like ‘Paranormal Activity’ was but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. Still it could have been so much better if they’d just restrained themselves with the whole stupid split-screen bullshit. Probably could have done without the whole ‘based on true event’ angle as well really. I know it isn’t, you know it isn’t so why even bother. Just make an interesting film for fucks sake.

Finally a note about the owls in the film. I kind of like the effect used around the owls eyes, like ink was seeping from their eyes into their feathers, giving them the appearance of the classic gray alien eyes but come on. Owls aren’t scary or threatening at all. Would it have hurt to show at least one alien? I mean seriously, I spent the whole film waiting to just get a glimpse of those little abducting bastards and instead I get fucking barn owls as a substitute. There is nothing remotely threatening about a cuddly, little barn owl…

Holy shit! Has anyone made a film about killer owls? Seriously Hollywood, if no one’s made a killer owl film, get on it. That shit would be awesome. They are purest evil.

Overall I’ll give ‘The Fourth Kind’ three pints out of five. It was a pretty decent paranormal thriller with some pretty good ideas but ultimately it’s kind of ruined by it’s own attempts to be different. Keeping it simple would have made it so much better. Laterz.

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