Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Initial Effect Diminished
Movies about aliens aren’t usually found in the horror genre because it is harder to pull off. People connect with the realism in film, and horror films are most effective when they are geared around a huge phobia that many people have, hence…ghost stories are often successful. Aliens are an intriguing category to say the least, but most people aren’t really afraid of them, they just “want to believe”. In essence, it’s a pretty bold and brave notion for an alien film to attempt horror – Signs and Dark Skies comes to mind when you think about a horror film on aliens. One film that I saw an early screening of back-in-the-day that peeked my interest was The Fourth Kind, a fact-based horror with an interesting concept.
Dr. Abigail Tyler (Milla Jovovich) is a widowed psychologist stationed in Nome, Alaska with some interesting patients. According to the film, all of Dr. Tyler’s patients report an eerie owl with large eyes staring at them throughout the night; though, under hypnosis, each patient declares the owl isn’t really an owl, signifying something other-worldly. Basically, these “owls” are actually aliens that speak ancient Sumerian (one of the oldest languages known to man) and abduct these folks, scaring them to the point of suicide and even homicide. Tyler digs deeper and gets wrapped into a world that she cannot explain or control.
This film acts as a huge dramatization, as seen on a special episode of Unsolved Mysteries or even Paranormal Witness. It will switch between a supposed “actual” interview with the “real” Dr. Tyler and the dramatization with Jovovich. Even Jovovich tells the audience who she is in the beginning, and what they are about to see is actual documented video and sound from the real Tyler herself. I first saw this in 2009, when the film was first released. It was one of the eeriest films I have ever seen, and it was quite convincing. Now, of course, there is plenty of cited proof that you can find otherwise, clearly stating this is all a fraud, and it is. So the initial effect of the movie is completely lost, but just know when it came out, it was pretty nuts.
Even if the realism effect is lost, the concept on its own is really something else. You should just rent it solely to check out how it was made. The “documented” footage was cleverly filmed on poor-quality full-framed footage, and the actors portraying the “real” people were the ones acting more realistically and more compelling. The problem with this footage, however, is that 1.) It does get old after a while, seeing the same thing played twice over and over. 2.) It falls victim to too many other horror films – whenever something good happens, the footage conveniently screws up – Every. Single. Time.
That being said, the way it was executed, realistic or not, was really haunting. The times when you don’t know what is going on, and all you hear is chilling screams and strange voices…it sets a discord. Especially if you didn’t know that it was phony to begin with. You start thinking…can this possibly be real? If the movie set out to have you ask that just once, and you ask that…it did its job perfectly. It definitely has its moments if you are open to a new style of film.
Again, this is an alien film, and it is a horror. Those two don’t typically match up very well, and I truly believe this did a pretty decent job. Yeah, it lost a lot of its believability since it was released four years ago, but it still has that style that no one else had really thought of before. That makes it unique, and whether you like the movie or not, you have got to give it credit for doing something rather original.
The movie set out to do what may other horror films have tried and failed to do in the past – make the audience believe this is a true story. Think The Blair Witch Project or the original Paranormal Activity – those movies had the actors play themselves, and part of the promotion for Blair Witch was saying that shortly before the film was released – those actors went missing without a trace. Brilliant move. No, this movie didn’t do that, and that was partially its downfall, because people did look into the history of Nome, Alaska, and did find a lot of holes. What they didn’t realize, however, was that the movie had enough of an effect on them to compel them to research – now I call that a success for a horror film.