“I’m actress Milla Jovovich, and I will be portraying Dr. Abigail Tyler in The Fourth Kind. This film is a dramatization of events that occurred October 1st through the 9th of 2000, in the Northern Alaskan town of Nome. To better explain the events of this story, the director has included actual archived footage throughout the film. This footage was acquired from Nome psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler, who has personally documented over 65 hours of video and audio materials during the time of the incidents. To better protect their privacy, we have changed the names and professions of many of the people involved. Every dramatized scene in this movie is supported by either archived audio, video or as it was related by Dr. Tyler during extensive interviews with the director. In the end, what you believe is yours to decide. Please be advised, that some of what you’re about to see is extremely disturbing.”
And so began the 2009 film, The Fourth Kind! Milla Jovovich plays Dr. Abbey Tyler, who is still emotionally devastated by the murder of her husband and who finds herself interviewing a lot of potential UFO abductees in Nome, Alaska. You may remember that, when this film came out, there was a lot of online debate over whether or not it was based on a true story. That’s because the film was advertised as containing actual “documentary footage” of Dr. Tyler talking to hypnotized alien abductees. Often times, during the film, a split screen was used so you could watch the “original” Dr. Tyler interviewing a patient while, at the same time, Milla Jovovich and an actor “recreated” the scene for the film.
Of course, the really interesting question here isn’t whether or not the documentary footage was real. Instead, to me, the real mystery of the film is why, if you had all of this amazing footage of real people freaking out under hypnosis, would you then make a movie starring Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, and Elias Koteas? It seems like a better idea would be to just make a documentary and save a lot of money on paying the cast.
Anyway, as you probably already guesses, the documentary footage was faked as well and there is no Dr. Abigail Tyler. Still, you have to admire the amount of effort that director Olatunde Osunsanmi put into trying to convince us that we were watching something based on a true story. I mean, he went far beyond just using the whole shaky cam stuff that most found footage horror movies fall back on. Wisely, Onsunsanmi made sure that none of the actors in the found footage were more attractive than the actors in the movie that was supposedly based upon it. Anyone who has seen enough “based on a true story” movies knows that the real people never look as good as the people hired to play them. I mean, honestly, this is a gimmick that Orson Welles would probably have appreciated. That said, Welles probably would have gotten better performances out of the actors in his fake documentary. When Milla Jovovovich is more convincing as a psychologist than the woman who were told actually is a psychologist, it’s a problem.
As for the film itself, it has a few effective jump scares. There’s a lot of people yelling in strange voices and, when Abbey’s daughter vanishes, Milla Jovovich does a good enough job communicating the anguish that any mother would feel if her child was abducted by aliens. Dependable actors like Will Patton and Elias Koteas show up and do what they can with underwritten roles. The Fourth Kind isn’t a bad movie but its storyline and characters are never as interesting as its gimmick. It’s the type of horror film that might make you jump while you’re watching but, a week later, all you’ll remember is Milla Jovovich introducing herself.