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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Fourth Kind

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, Alaska.

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 similar.

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 worthwhile exchanges.

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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Mark: Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. (When Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark's mother.) 
<p>Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul's refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas's insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long. </p><p>The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus' rejection by humanity while being God's triumphant envoy. Probably written for Gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark's Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a "scandal": a crucified Messiah. </p><p>Evidently a friend of Mark (Peter called him "my son"), Peter is only one of the Gospel sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots) and the Church at Antioch (largely Gentile). </p><p>Like one other Gospel writer, Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: "Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked" (Mark 14:51-52). </p><p>Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains. </p><p>A winged lion is Mark's symbol. The lion derives from Mark's description of John the Baptist as a "voice of one crying out in the desert" (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel's vision of four winged creatures (Ezekiel, chapter one) to the evangelists.</p> American Catholic Blog Moodiness is nothing else but the fruit of pride.

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