“Hi, my name is Megan Fox, and I’ll be playing Heather Donahue in this movie. I’m joined by Chace Crawford as Josh Leonard and Cam Gigandet as Mike Williams as we all recreate the events that surrounded a group of young students who set out in the woods in search of the legendary Blair Witch. What you’re about to see is all verified by actual video tape and some of it is truly disturbing.”
The question that The Fourth Kind poses is that which I’ve described above. Can you take a false “true” event, and instead of relying solely on “found footage,” remake the entire thing using better looking actors and expect it to carry the same weight? In a word, no.
For those of you unsure of what I’m talking about, The Fourth Kind claims to be based on a series of real life interviews conducted by a real life doctor. Now, audio and video snippets of these case studies exist, but the filmmakers thought it best to bring in Milla Jovovich to play the female psychologist who is the focus of the story, and as you see in real life, looks like one of the mental patients locked up at Shutter Island.
Milla Jovovich is scared.
So The Fourth Kind is two movies, half of it is grainy video cam footage showing “real” patients freaking out during therapy sessions, and the other half is a slick digital print of Milla Jovovich acting out the “true events.” She lets you know she’ll be doing this at the beginning of the film, where she literally walks up to the camera and gives you the little Megan Fox speech I’ve described, saying she’s Milla Jovovich portraying Dr. So-and-So and what you’re about to see is completely true and f*cked up.
Now, the point I’m making here is that no, Blair Witch would have in NO way been better if it were cast with known actors and filmed in glorious 1080p hi-def, in fact, it would have made it suck something awful. Just ask Blair Witch 2. The Fourth Kind is an interesting experiment in the “documentary style” of filmmaking, but one that ultimately serves as a warning of how NOT to make a “based on true events” movie.
The concept of alien abduction uncovered through psychological hypnosis and actual recorded encounters is without a doubt a very interesting idea. But with the movie constantly reminding you that you’re watching a “reenactment” the entire way through, there’s never time to be engrossed by it, and what could have been a cool story is completely lost and muddled with this filming style. You know those History Channel shows that hire actors to reenact some violent crime in a rather clumsy way? Well picture that, but turn it in to a feature film with actors you’ve actually heard of. And aliens.
Milla Jovovich is SUPER scared!
The Fourth Kind might have worked if they had stuck PURELY with the “found footage” angle. Claiming a series of recorded tapes to be actual interviews with actual people interspersed with crazy alien happenings along the way isn’t a bad idea. This whole reenactment angle was complete useless, and unfortunately, ends up being 90% of the film. You don’t need to make two separate movies, one with all amateurs on grainy film and one with supermodels shot on and HD cam. You just need to pick one or the other, having them both is far too confusing for the average viewer, and between the two, the entire movie gets lost.
What further upsets me about the movie is the amount of work they put in to convincing you it was real. After the film wraps, there’s about ten minutes of “Where are they now” usually found after true stories like Schindler’s List and Chariots of Fire. But as it turns out The Fourth Kind is in NO WAY based on true events, interviews or people, and I would maintain they might actually be liable for false advertising by claiming the contrary. Can you really say something is “inspired by true events” because someone, somewhere has said they think they’ve been abducted by aliens? I guess so. I suppose we should look forward to a “based on a true story” Bigfoot and Loch Ness movie in the future as well.
The Fourth Kind is genuinely scary at times, but too often you’re jarred out of the film by a flash of “real video” or a snippet of “real audio” or interview footage from the “real life” Milla Jovovich character who looks like she’s been drained off all her youth and energy through some sort of magic curse, and subsequently talks like the eight year old from The Ring.
The movie builds suspense enough where you want to stay and see how it ends, unfortunately the film is so poorly structured it completely prevents the good movie inside of it from getting out, and that’s going to be a real shame with Oren Peli’s (Paranormal Activity) “found footage” alien documentary Roswell comes out, because if The Fourth Kind did it right, they could have beaten him to the punch.
1.5 out of 5 stars.
MILLA JOVOVICH IS MOTHER****ING TERRIFIED!!!