Hollywood Product: The Fourth Kind
Director Olatunde Osunsanmi dramatizes sketchy proof of alien abductions
GENRE: Supernatural docudrama
THE PITCH: Director Olatunde Osunsanmi reenacts a mysterious tale of alien abduction told by Dr. Abigail Tyler through interviews and recorded footage of close encounters in Nome, Alaska. Shot as a hybrid between a documentary and a feature film, viewers follow Tyler’s (Milla Jovovich) desperate search to uncover the truth about strange coincidences occurring to her family and the residents of Nome.
MONEY SHOTS: Dr. Tyler and her colleague Dr. Campos (Elias Koteas) reluctantly hypnotize her patient Scott Stracinsky (Enzo Cilenti) again in his bedroom after he starts to exhibit abnormal behavior. As he begins to retrace what happened to him, he springs forward, sitting straight up before hovering over the bed and speaking in ancient Sumerian.
BEST “I WANT TO BELIEVE” LINE: “When something boasts 11 million reported cases, it would win in any court in the world,” explains Dr. Tyler when she tries to rationalize what she and Dr. Campos have witnessed and uncovered.
BEST “… IN BED” LINES: Who knew that alien abduction statements could have such sexual innuendo? Try these quotes and see what I mean: “We’re talking about the oldest recorded language coming from your room,” says Awolowa (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), a linguistics professor, to Tyler after listening to an overnight audio recording. “I believe the presence that was in me,” explains Tyler when trying to make sense of what transpired while under hypnosis. My favorite is Campos' clarity of thought, “You just can’t stop it being inside just because you want it to.”
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: People don’t eat or drink much when under duress of being (allegedly) anally raped by creatures from another world. They do get around in very nice Land Rover Discoveries, though.
FACT OR FICTION MOMENTS: Shot as a dramatization, Osunsanmi splices certain scenes with the actual video or audio recordings submitted by Dr. Tyler and Nome police patrol car footage. Whenever an alien event occurs, the video footage becomes severely distorted so it’s hard to make out what’s happening, not to mention if it’s a hoax or not. Several facts about the Sumerians and the Nome populace make a convincing argument, but as the disclaimer from Jovovich explains, it’s up to the viewer to decide.
BOTTOM LINE: Skepticism aside, there’s just not enough substance in this story to be believable or entertaining. Jovovich’s portrayal of the somewhat homely Tyler is in excess of the character and becomes more annoying than credible. Osunsanmi took a big risk telling this unbelievable story as he did. While it's clear Osunsanmi attempted to remove any prejudices from the film, he leaves huge holes and long, character-defaming pauses in the story that are an encounter of the worst kind: just plain boring.