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‘The Fourth Kind’ falters

Fri., Nov. 6, 2009

“I am actress Milla Jovovich,” the star says directly to the audience as she introduces her new movie, “The Fourth Kind.”

And those are pretty much the last true words out of her mouth in this gimmicky, “Yes, this really happened” alien-abduction horror hooey.

“Close Encounters” fans will recognize the title. Alien sighting, close encounter of the first kind; making friends and phoning home, close encounter of the third kind; kidnapped, probed, poked and freaked out of your mind? That’s “a close encounter of the fourth kind.”

Jovovich plays a Nome, Alaska, psychotherapist whose husband has died and whose sleep-deprived patients are telling her chilling, cryptic stories of owls and abduction when she puts them under hypnosis.

The conceit that writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi milks for all it’s worth is that the “real” Dr. Abigail Tyler is shown in a video interview in which she narrates her encounters with patients who flipped out and even killed themselves over what they’d experienced.

Osunsanmi uses split screens to show “real” police video and “real” hypnosis session video playing out opposite his actors re-enacting those moments. The video conveniently distorts at every payoff-shot moment – victims levitating, their mouths distorting to roar some ancient language that some “expert” identifies as Sumerian, as if anybody knows what Sumerian sounded like.

“What you believe is yours to decide” is the awkward way actor and director make their case. A quick check of the Web, where The Anchorage Daily News and others have exposed the hoax, helps.

The “reality” scenes are chilling enough, but the movie isn’t helped by a blank-faced turn by Jovovich, channeling her decades as a “if you smile or frown, you’ll wrinkle” model.

“The Fourth Kind” is a fraud, but that wouldn’t matter if it were scarier and better acted.

Don’t blame Jovovich, though. It’s hard to act with your pants on fire.


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