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Fourth Kind, The

Entry updated 12 May 2021. Tagged: Film.

Film (2009). Universal Pictures and Gold Circle Films presents a Chambara Pictures and Dead Crow Pictures production in association with Focus Films, Fourth Kind Productions and Saga Film. Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi. Written by Osunsanmi with Terry Robbins. Cast includes Enzo Cilenti, Raphaël Coleman, Corey Johnson, Milla Jovovich, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Elias Koteas, Mia Mckenna-Bruce, Charlotte Milchard and Will Patton. 98 minutes. Colour.

A psychologist (see Psychology) uses Hypnosis to unearth a series of Alien abductions (see also UFOs) in a small Alaskan town.

"It's difficult to go back over the line from fiction to reality."

Actor Milla Jovovich introduces the movie as herself, telling us that she will be playing Dr Abigail Tyler; in fact, another actor (Charlotte Milchard) is also playing Dr Tyler, in "real-life" Found Footage purporting to cover a few days in early October 2000 during which several of Tyler's patients claim to have been abducted by malevolent Aliens declaiming in Sumerian. One patient, Tommy (Johnson), shoots his wife and children before turning the gun on himself; another, Scott (Cilenti), levitates above his bed before becoming paralysed from the neck down. Dr Tyler must contend with a sceptical colleague (Koteas), a belligerent sheriff (Patton) and the outright disbelief of her own son (Coleman) before her daughter (Mckenna-Bruce) is herself abducted.

The blurring of the lines between fiction and reality is both the most interesting and most dubious thing about The Fourth Kind. That much of what is depicted occurs in recorded hypnotherapy sessions, television interviews and dash-cam footage is diverting for a while, but such is the consistent trumpeting of the reality of the mocked-up forms of footage that one must either suspend disbelief in the possibility of alien abductions or fail to engage with the movie at all. "In the end," we are told, "what you choose to believe is yours to decide." This is a feint toward Postmodernism that the strangely despondent yet silly cycle of events does little to substantiate.

Then there is the questionable taste of the film's having based its story and marketing campaign on a much smaller spate of real-life disappearances in Nome, Alaska – a town named but not represented here, as The Fourth Kind was filmed mainly in the mountains of Bulgaria – which most likely involved the over-consumption of alcohol and exposure to the elements, and into which the FBI conducted an investigation. The local newspapers the Nome Nugget and the Fairbanks Daily News-Milner sued Universal over a fake website with stories presenting the film's events as real; The Fourth Kind maintains the "reality" of its fiction until the end, with Dr Tyler (Milchard) finishing up in a wheelchair estranged from her son. In order to lie in service of the truth, there must be some form of emotional truth about which to lie; here, there is only melodrama. [MD]


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