The Fourth Kind
By John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service
In the decade since "The Blair Witch Project" hit it
big at the box office, several horror films—including, most
recently, Oren Peli's "Paranormal Activity"—have followed its recipe
for success by using video camera footage to lend realism to a
fictional story. "The Fourth Kind" (Universal) makes the leap to
presenting such scenes as "actual" documentation of real-life events,
specifically a rash of supposed alien abductions in remote Nome,
The occasional jolt aside, the results in this slow-moving, largely ineffective thriller are not especially convincing.
In keeping with his overall conceit, writer-director Olatunde
Osunsanmi introduces us to two versions of his main character,
psychologist Abigail Tyler: the wheelchair-bound and deeply spooked
"original"—whom he gravely interviews—and, for purposes of
supposed dramatization, actress Milla Jovovich. Back in 2000, we learn,
the recently widowed Tyler was treating several Nome residents for a
sleep disorder when she discovered that their symptoms were startlingly
All, for instance, reported being stared at, to nerve-jangling
effect, by a mysterious white owl. Once hypnotized to clarify their dim
memories, however, at least two of Tyler's subjects came to the
agonizing realization—amid, as we're shown, much screaming and
thrashing about—that the gimlet-eyed bird was merely a psychological
substitute for malevolent visitors of an extraterrestrial variety.
In addition to smelling like putrefied cinnamon, according to
one victim's description, and speaking Sumerian—a language extinct
among humans for millennia—these interplanetary baddies make a habit
of whisking folk off to their spacecraft and experimenting on them in
all manner of unspeakable ways, then returning them to their beds with
their consciousness of the experience all but wiped clean.
Convinced that the intruders were to blame for her husband's
death, and anxious to pursue her history-altering discovery, Tyler
turns for support to friendly colleague Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas).
But Campos, like local lawman Sheriff August (Will Patton)—who comes
into conflict with Tyler after one of her patients goes on a murderous
post-hypnotic rampage—proves stubbornly skeptical.
Amid the hokey proceedings, the script makes a fleeting,
potentially troublesome foray into theology, with an expert on Sumerian
civilization asserting that the biblical accounts of the creation and
the flood are derived from pagan myths, and the seemingly demonic
aliens making garbled claims to divinity.
But Tyler—who is earlier shown extemporizing an explicitly
Christian grace before a family dinner—sets things right, at least
on the second topic, in one of the generally weak script's more
The film contains some violence, including a short scene of
gory murder, brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, a half-dozen uses of
profanity and a few crude terms. The USCCB Office for Film &
Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. Motion Picture
Association of America rating, PG-13—parents strongly cautioned.
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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