Hey this is my 50th blog post! Woo. Mini-wave in celebration of me. (Name that reference.)
Now, if you know me... you might know that most everything scares me. Horror movies of all kinds will haunt me for days, but especially the kind with strange paranormal or supernatural themes. I watched The Fourth Kind with 3 of my friends and we were all very apprehensive to do it. The trailers looked terrifying and I was sure that there would be no way I could sleep after seeing it. Still, we watched it anyways and here's my overall impression.
The basic plot is that Milla Jovovich's character, Dr. Abbey Tyler, is trying to continue research that her late husband, Will, was doing before he was murdered. They were both psychologists and Will had a case that was really important to him that had to do with patients waking up around the same time every night, unable to go back to sleep, and all see an owl outside their window, staring at them. Since none can remember if anything happened to them to make them wake, Abbey begins by putting one of these patients under hypnosis to see if he will be able to remember anything.
Under hypnosis, her patients begin screaming and makes a mess of the room in panic. When he comes out of hypnosis, he refuses to tell Abbey what he's seen. Later that night he kills his entire family and himself. Another of Abbey's patients asks to be put under because he wants to know if the same thing is happening to him, and under hypnosis he begins shouting in a demonic voice, screaming, and when coming out of it, he throws up immediately. He tries to describe what he's seen, but can't. For both of these patients, side by side footage is used, with the actors of the movie re-enacting the scene to the right, and what the film claims to be actual footage of the event on the left.
Eventually Abbey is left with no other choice but to be put under hypnosis herself, by a colleague and friend. The language expert is there as well. When under hypnosis she begins to remember what happened to her and she seems possessed by the non-humans. The side by side footage begins to crackle again, but you can still see and hear what is going on. She is levitated off the couch and is shaking all around while yelling at the other beings and seemingly communicating with them. This footage may be the most frightening of the entire movie.
Throughout the entire movie, they've been interspersing actual interview footage of Dr. Abbey Tyler talking about her story. She looks gaunt and sickly. She tells the interviewer she never got her daughter back but she has to believe her story will help someone else, somehow. As the movie ends, the footage shows a wide shot for the first time of the interview, and reveals that Abbey is now a paraplegic.
Ok, so by this time you might be saying... wait... ACTUAL footage?? Well, that's what I said immediately after I finished this film. I looked around at all my friends and we were a little stunned. How could the stuff they claimed to be "actual footage" be ACTUAL FOOTAGE? There was no doubt in my mind that if this footage really existed and anyone had watched these tapes before, it would have been enough to prove to anyone that something unexplainable by logic was going on. It was irrefutable evidence, had this footage been "actual" like they had said, that something frightening, had happened... But I'd never heard of anything like this. (Nor did I believe a police video would be so willingly given to a movie production in this way if it did, indeed, have aliens in it, haha.) So I immediately got out my iPhone and did a little research.
First, I went to Wikipedia just to see what others had said about the movie. I learned that the claim the movie made that the FBI has been to that area of Alaska more times than anywhere else was an exaggeration. I also read that CNN disproved the "actual footage" as actual footage before the movie even came out. Not to mention that Universal Studios paid people to create fake web sites and obituaries to make it seem like the events in the movie were based in reality. Also, Universal was sued by the Alaska Press Club because of the fake news archives they were creating to promote the movie. Universal paid up $20,000.(I don't blame them for suing, because 5 minute after that movie I swore I'd never visit Alaska!)
a virtually unknown actress named Charlotte Milchard. IMDB credits her on their The Fourth Kind page as the lady who played "the 'real' Dr. Abbey Tyler". Seems like too much to be a psychologist, abducted by aliens, and a no name actress all in one life time.
After all of this, I felt much better. Not that I had really ever believed the footage to be true, but the thought of the possibility, and how fervently the movie insists upon its own validity was enough to make anyone have an uneasy night of sleep. Especially after the images we had watched. I was glad to find completely reliable sources to give me peace of mind.
However, this raised other questions. Since everything that was scary in the film turned out to be fake, the entire movie seemed to lose its effect, but I had to wonder why. I've watched countless horror movies that I knew weren't true and the movie didn't claim them to be true, and yet they still scared me. Thinking back, all the moments we are scared during this movie is when the humans are reacting or remembering the aliens. The patients screaming or throwing up or committing suicide just at a memory frightens us for what we imagine they must have seen. However, because The Fourth Kind bases their entire fear factor on the claim that these events are real and truly happened, once it is disproved, the movie doesn't have much left.
Logically, the movie makes less and less sense as I tried to understand the details. The aliens drag you out of your bed to where you can scratch the ground and make marks with your fingernails, or do they suck you out with a beam of light from your ceiling? Which is it? The aliens wait for you to fall asleep to take you and then suck you up by your chest... but if they have memory erasing ability, why does it matter if you are asleep? Seems like it's just the creepier time of day, to be honest. And what if your loud neighbor is having a part till 3 am? Do the aliens care if the neighbors see them sucking you out of your house at night, or do they wait for your neighbor to pass out drunk first? What if you have a dog? Do they erase the dog's memory? Because something tells me that a dog would be just as traumatized if they saw their masters being taken away through a beam of light. And finally, the last question I have is... WHY do the aliens use an ancient HUMAN language to communicate? It seems to me that if these non-humans came from outer space they would have made up their own damn alien language and wouldn't bother to speak Sumerian! But that's just me.
So overall, what do I think of this movie? It was super entertaining, and I was very scared the entire time, but finding out how blatantly and shamelessly the film tries to insult your intelligence and lie to your face kind of takes the appeal away. There's a difference between presenting a story as a possible real event and actually saying, out right with the stars of the movie talking directly to the audience, that what is being shown is the truth when you know well and good that's a lie. I think had this movie kept a bit more mystery to the story and had tried less to prove it's validity, it would have been more balanced and would have had more to go on than just keeping the illusion going. The images will always be disturbing, but what makes a good movie and keeps it good viewing after viewing is substance, and without the lie, I felt there was no substance left.
Sorry, Fourth Kind, people don't like to be lied to. But P.S. Milla Jovavich was great and beyond gorgeous the entire time.