The Fourth Kind (15)
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Time Out says
Fri Nov 6 2009'Do you honestly believe,' symapthetic psychoanalyst Dr Campos (Elias Koteas) asks his widowed friend and colleague Dr Abbey Tyler (Milla Jovovich), 'that your daughter was taken by members of an alien race?' Yes, it's alien abuction time again, with some ancient Sumerian mumbo-jumbo and Erik von Daniken-style 'God was an astronaut' tosh thrown in for bad measure. This time, however, the verifiable 'truth' of the events depicted is reinforced through the use of actual video and audio footage of hypnotised patients, plus interviews with the real shrink. As is traditional with tales of alien abduction – see also 'Communion' and 'Fire in the Sky' - these patients live in the middle of nowhere, in this case the tiny Alaskan town of Nome.
Despite the threat to her family and her sanity, the angry scepticism of the local sheriff (Will Patton) and the professional concerns of her fellow shrink (Koteas), Dr Tyler (Jovovich) is determined to continue her murdered husband's research. This study involves a group of disturbed patients who, under hypnosis, are struggling to recall something traumatic that happened to them in the early hours of the morning, following nightly visitations by a spooky owl. Are these strikingly similar stories and expriences evidence of alien visitation, or just the ravings of the psychologically disturbed?
Leaving aside the improbability of everything that happens, and the fact that the archive recordings are obviously faked, the decision by writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi to inter-cut the scratchy 'found' material with the dramatised scenes is self-defeating. If the entire film had been staged as a spoof documentary, the grainy video and distorted audio might have retained some power. But by mixing the 'found' footage' with the re-enacted scenes - sometimes by splitting the screen into two or four sections - Osunsanmi's tricksy formal device simply reinforces our disbelief and invites ridicule.
Author: Nigel Floyd