The 4th Kind
starring Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Elias Koteas and Hakeem Kae-Kazim
written and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
This was a scary movie, and I would have given it more stars if scary movies were the kind of thing I like. (My wife likes scary English-language movies, though, because they are easier for her to understand than dramas.)
Don’t be fooled. The 4th Kind is a fictional story that pretends to be based on factual, documented events in Nome, Alaskain October 2000, involving a Psychologist, Dr. Abigail Tyler, who was jointly conducting a sleep disorder study with her husband that got out of hand. Way out of hand. It’s confusing when a movie presents itself as being based on real, factual events - like Fargo,The Blair Witch Project, and The Amityville Horror - and it actually is not. Remember that the studios have no obligation to tell you the truth, and falsely calling fictional stories “based on a true story” is a promotional framing device more than anything else.
If you want a good fright, reality is scarier than fiction. Consider my downstairs neighbor.
To make a long story short, the psychologists discover widespread alien abduction hallucinations in the town. The stories are retrieved through hypnosis. Except for the paranormal activity that was captured on video (as scientists they documented everything), on cassette tape, and corroborated by reliable witnesses you might file it away in your mind alongside those 1970s late-night Bigfoot documentaries narrated by the recently-deceased Peter Graves. When so-called documentary video footage was used the names of the participants were either blocked out or labeled as aliases, pandering to the fiction that these are real events. But documentary footage of Dr. Abigail Tyler herself identified her as “Dr. Abigail Tyler”, and there is no record of a Dr. Abigail Tyler practicing psychology in Nome, Alaska. So we may assume that the woman in the interview clips is an un-credited, paid actress. And if that is the case, so much for the rest of the so-called “archival footage.”
One of the most interesting facets of the story is the ancient Sumerian. But the movie does not develop the lead as it should. The implication is that alien creatures visited Earth millennia ago, were revered as gods by the first Mesopotamian civilizations - Sumer, in this case - and taught them their language, which they are still speaking on their periodic visitations to Earth. Reference is made to Sumerian art, sculpture and terra cotta that extreme theorists postulate as representing rockets, spacemen, etc., much as others say about the Maya and the Inca of the Americas. Real Chariots of the Gods kind of stuff. There is a whole other spooky movie right there, even if the alien abduction idea is not pursued.
People who study UFO phenomena measure four levels of experience, or ‘close encounters:’ a Close Encounter of the First Kind is a UFO sighting; the Second Kind is evidence of aliens - crop circles, radiation, inexplicably slaughtered livestock, etc.; the Third Kind is actual face-to-face meeting (remember the Steven Spielberg movie of that title, starring Richard Dreyfus and Teri Garr); the Fourth Kind is abduction. Abduction is bad. Worldwide since the 1930s there have been about 11-million witnesses of various kinds of ‘encounters.’ That’s a lot of people. But I still have to wonder, why aren’t there more? A lot more?
I don’t believe in alien visitations, but I do believe that there is some really strange stuff in the world. Really strange - and I don’t just mean what happens to socks in the washing machine or why the wheels of a stagecoach fleeing from Indians or highwaymen in the movies look like they’re going backwards. If you want a good fright, reality is scarier than fiction. Consider my downstairs neighbor. Something ugly!