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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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Gianna Beretta Molla: 
		<p>In less than 40 years, Gianna Beretta Molla became a pediatric physician, a wife, a mother and a saint! </p>
		<p>She was born in Magenta (near Milano) as the 10th of Alberto and Maria’s 13 children. An active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Gianna earned degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia and opened a clinic in Mesero. Gianna also enjoyed skiing and mountain climbing.</p>
		<p>Shortly before her 1955 marriage to Pietro Molla, Gianna wrote to him: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.” She and Peter had three children, Pierlluigi, Maria Zita and Laura. </p>
		<p>Early in the pregnancy for her fourth child, doctors discovered that Gianna had both a child and a tumor in her uterus. She allowed the surgeons to remove the tumor but not to perform the complete hysterectomy that they recommended, which would have killed the child. Seven months later, Gianna Emanuela was born, The following week Gianna Beretta Molla died in Monza of complications from childbirth. She is buried in Mesero.</p>
		<p>Gianna Emanuela went on to become a physician herself. Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified in 1994 and canonized 10 years later.</p>
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