If you've ever been cornered at a party by some wingnut conspiracy theorist with garlic-mouth loudly assuring you that you're "not seeing the big picture," then you know just a touch of this movie's dreadful brain-eating power. At last, here's a movie that finds Dan Brown's religious mumbo jumbo too plausible; The Fourth Kind is a toxic stew of von Däniken and voyeurism; it's like Blair Witch but without the stomach-turning camera work because here all the nausea rises straight up from the script.
Like a camp counselor telling tall tales to scare kids shitless, writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi pulls the carnival hokum out right away with actress Milla Jovovich addressing the camera, insisting that we're seeing re-enactments of actual events mixed with video footage of real documented cases. Supposedly Nome, Alaska, has been plagued with a series of mysterious disappearances for years, and Jovovich plays Abigail Tyler, a therapist who uses hypnosis to get to the bottom of it. Her patients all suffer disturbing visions of what they describe as an "owl" — but more sinister. Soon they begin having dangerous delusions, suicidal impulses and fits of floating and speaking in ancient Sumerian.
Osunsanmi can't sidestep his overly clever setup, employing captions, split screens and other distractions to sell us on the notion that this is all true.
He also pulls off the scientifically impossible feat of finding an actress even shittier than Jovovich to play the "real" Dr. Abigail Tyler, who gives a monotone, shell-shocked interview wearing 10 pounds of pancake makeup.
It's all viral marketing nonsense; you'd get more thrills from watching YouTube clips of Bigfoot. This is junk — cheap junk at that — about half as convincing as those old Leonard Nimoy In Search Of... shows, where at least you'd get a glimpse of the monster, even if it was some schnook in a yeti getup. Seventy years ago, Orson Welles could tell radio audiences that the Martians were coming with a wink and a smile and cause pandemonium, but if you buy this crap these days, the joke's on you, pal.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.