Thursday, November 5, 2009

Extraterrestrial Activity

I've been in kind of a post-Halloween funk this week. Nothing seems to be catching my attention or inspiring me to do much. It'll pass, of course, but let me tell you - The Fourth Kind didn't do anything to help me. If I wasn't in a funk before, I sure am now. Based on the trailers I was hoping for some enjoyably creepy extraterrestrial hokum. While I don't believe in aliens and flying saucers and all that nonsense, I'm totally willing to play along during the course of a movie for the sake of having a good time. But by the end of The Fourth Kind, though, all that I felt was a sense of depression.

I know that being abducted by aliens isn't supposed to be a picnic but to watch The Fourth Kind is to learn just how bad aliens - or at least believing in aliens - can fuck up your life. Milla Jovovich plays a real-life psychologist in Nome, Alaska who has some pre-existing issues of her own, thanks to her husband's mysterious death. When her patients begin to tell her similar stories about a white owl that visits them at night, she decides that a little hypno-therapy should sort 'em out. Well, that's when people really begin to lose their shit. It's suggested by one character after a particularly tragic episode that maybe hypnotizing these patients isn't such a smooth move but Jovovich's character doesn't want to hear that. Eventually her persistence bites her in the ass. She should've been a Kenny Rogers fan. If she had been, she would've known when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, when to walk away, and for damn sure know when to run.

The Fourth Kind is reportedly based on true events but I'm too lazy to look into verifying that. Sans any fact-checking, I'm going to guess that it's all bullshit. Not just the alien stuff, because that's a given. I just hope the whole movie is an elaborate put-on, including the 'real' footage that plays in tandem with the reenactments. If this is really based on documented cases, this is one depressing movie. Not creepy, just depressing. I don't believe in aliens but I do believe that disturbed people can lose themselves in paranoid fantasies and never find their way back. If you're going to make a movie about alien abductions, don't be ambiguous about whether aliens exist or not. I'm sure they don't exist in real life, but at least have the characters in a movie about aliens not seem so sad and crazy.

Even though it's strongly suggested in The Fourth Kind that aliens were - and still are! - at work in Nome, Alsaka, the evidence is too wishy-washy. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi leaves the decision up to us what we take away from the 'facts' that his movie presents. That may be admirable from a journalistic stand-point but personally, I think some exaggeration of the facts and maybe even some outright fabrication was needed. We're talking about flying saucers here, not an expose of the banking industry. Jovovich and the rest of the cast (especially Will Patton as a sheriff at the end of his wits) are all good but right up until its conclusion, The Fourth Kind doesn't have any real cards to play. It just sputters out, leaving nothing but wrecked lives.

When I was a kid, stories of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and aliens all scared me but also filled me with a sense of wonder. When I saw a movie like The Mysterious Monsters (1976), reportedly based on true testimony, or watched an (ahem!) 'investigative' show like In Search Of (1976-1982), it made me dream about what was out there, undiscovered in the world or the universe. But the only speculation The Fourth Kind encourages is about what kind of anti-depressants its most traumatized characters must be on. Whatever meds they're taking, I hope they're out of this world.


Anonymous said...

And I'm too lazy to post links but I researched it about 2 months ago and its all hooey. Good viral marketing though. Seemed like this movie had loads of potential. Bummed that it didn't pan out.

Jeff Allard said...

I agree, it's too bad about this one - I think there's always room for a spooky alien abduction tale. The Fourth Kind just doesn't work, unfortunately.

Matt-suzaka said...

I believe! That is mostly because I receive nightly visits from an alien force that "forces" itself onto me! Sorry.

Yours is the first review I have read and I must say, I am disappointed that you didn't like it. I really wanted to see The Fourth Kind and still will, but my expectations are shot down a bit.

I still find stuff like that very fascinating, not as much as when I was younger, but I believe in some of that crap. I do wish there were more movies that could tap into the sens of wonderment and fear of unknown alien presences. Probably the best film like that is Fire in the Sky...and I still have a fondness for Communion too.

Jeff Allard said...

I'm sorry this wasn't better, too. It's been too long since Fire in the Sky - I was hoping this would set the new bar for that kind of movie. It's probably worth checking out on DVD, if you're curious. I've seen worse, it just doesn't really pay off in the end.

I think there's another alien abduction tale coming next year from Dark Castle called The Nye Incidents and that's based on a story (or comic, or something) by Whitley Strieber so maybe there's some hope for that one.

Timmy Crabcakes said...

It's funny, but I didn't really have any interest in seeing this until reading your review... now I wanna watch it.
I liked Communion, The Mothman Prophecies and Fire In The Sky... because they left a lot of stuff up in the air and verged on some of the stuff Jacques Vallee and John Keel have written about... UFOs as real phenomenon that DON'T have anything to do with extraterrestrials... and how they tie in with ancient fairy and ghost stories.
Communion in particular was very dreamlike... and left you guessing as to how much of what was going on was hallucination.
Anyway... thanks to you for letting me know this might be something I'd be interested in after all.

Jeff Allard said...

You're welcome, Knob! If you check out the movie drop a comment back here and let me know what you thought!

Jeff Allard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I did not like the Fourth Kind either and to directly lie to your audience is something that I find insulting. Oh well. Anyway, I stumbled upon this post because it has the same title as a feature length movie I'm working on called 'Extraterrestrial Activity'. It's being filmed in the same style as Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity. Hopefully I do a much better job than the Fourth Kind. Facebook page