Friday, 6 November 2009



The makers of the new SF thriller The Fourth Kind have gone to extraordinary lengths to convince us that what we're seeing is a completely accurate dramatisation of the gospel facts: verified, corroborated by sane professionals, backed up by hard incontrovertible evidence and sworn testimonies. Milla Jovovich even appears as herself in the film's trailer (and in the opening scenes of the film itself) to confirm that, yes, It's All True, Honest, Guv. All the tropes of Reality Cinema are there: not least the video camera footage and appearances from some of the real people involved. Even if it is about alien abductions, how could it possibly not be true?

Actually I suspect it's not even faintly true, not even in the same postcode as Loosely Based On Probable Events, and is simply nothing more than sub X-Files spooky alien hogwash dressed up as a docudrama. Milla Jovovich stars as Alaskan psychologist Dr Abigail Tyler, investigating a series of sleep disorders involving a mysterious owl (that isn't really an owl), and coming to terms with the unexplained death of her husband. Her use of hypnosis techniques to find out more about the disorders backfires when her patients, her family, and ultimately herself come to harm.

There is a scene in which one of Tyler's patients commits the most serious of crimes, and the act is shown via a police car video camera. If it is true then how did a movie company get hold of it? Would that even be legal? Certainly it's morally questionable at best. Discounting that means you can actually discount most of the rest of the film. What's left? A lot of split screen work between the "real" events and the film's restagings, a spooky ambient noise kind of score, VHS video footage of hypnosis sessions and plenty of waffle about the Sumerians. Yes, there are some nicely persuasive moments, but not many of them. And it takes an age to get going. If they'd played it as a straight SF/horror movie and not sought to bolster its more dubious moments with cries of "but it's real!" - a simple, unpretentious bit of scary hokum for the winter evenings - it would have worked better. As it is it's rather too full of itself.


No comments: