The Fourth Kind is a high-end alien abduction film, presented in a documentary frame; that endeavors to disturb rather then horrify. Characters Dr. Abigail Tyler (Milla Jovovich) and Sheriff August (Will Patton) are brought to life in top-notch fashion. Though expected from Patton, this may be the best acting the viewer has seen from Jovovich. Sheriff August walks the fine line between anger, fear, and terror during prevalent scenes during the film. He is frightened by the unexplained, clinging to the law and rationality to make sense out of situations that are outside of the scope of normal explanation. He seems barely able to contain his escalating torrent of emotions and keep himself under control, tittering on breaking under the unexplainable. Sheriff August’s emotional and mental situation is also a mirror of what is happening to some of Dr. Tyler’s patients.
The Fourth Kind has all of the atmospheric gloom and orchestrated, ominous feel of a X-Files television episode balanced with a true story abduction element unseen in such original fashion since Fire in the Sky. The single most unique and defining element of The Fourth Kind is the mixing of “actual” footage coterminous with its reenactment during the film. Director/Writer Olatunde Osunsanmi takes one of the best elements of the first few seasons of television’s 24 and Kill Bill, the split screens, and uses them to show what happens in “real” life to Dr. Abigail’s patients throughout various tumultuous scenes during The Fourth Kind, most involving dramatic moments or hypnosis sessions. The brilliance of this cinematic technique is that the “real” footage and the reenactments actually amplify each other. In most cases, the archival, “real” footage is more exciting to watch than seeing its reenactment.
Not since The Exorcism of Emily Rose has the viewer probably seen a PG-13 horror film this intense. There is no blood in either film yet both manage to frighten on levels a good splatter fest or Torture Horror could never accomplish, too pre-occupied with inventive ways to extinguish life.
There are three scenes of note that occur within The Fourth Kind: the first beginning the first hypnosis sequence in the film involving one of Dr. Tyler’s patients, Tommy (Corey Johnson), when the sheriff comes over to Dr. Tyler after the second hypnosis session, and when Dr. Tyler’s daughter, Ashley Tyles (Mia McKenna Bruce), goes missing. There is strong acting during these scenes in The Fourth Kind, strong enough to draw the audience in. Most horror films, unlike Orphan, seem incapable of accomplishing this and it’s surprising that a PG-13 horror film can. Hopelessness and fear is brought out in such a way during The Fourth Kind that the viewer might actually feel sorry for the onscreen characters. When is the last time you felt sorry for the plight of character in a horror movie? Mine was when I saw Wolf Creek (there might have been others but that horror movie sticks out in my mind).
Olatunde Osunsanmi’s The Fourth Kind is a horror movie not quite on the level of Signs but it may be the closest film to it (in regards to script quality and acting) since that film left theater. The Fourth Kind is a high-level horror movie that oh-so-briefly and momentarily bounces off the mind and heart and not the viewer’s gag reflex.