The Fourth Kind has many a scares, but it feels more like a made-for-tv movie than anything else. That doesn’t make it bad, it just makes the decision to wait for it on DVD that much easier.
The film, based on ‘real events’ and shot juxtaposing documentary and reenactment footage, is a good thrill… for a few minutes. The film’s publicity and marketing material suggest that The Fourth Kind is based on actual occurrences , but the reality is that this is as “based on a true story” as Fargo was (not at all). It’s all part of a backstory that extends beyond the screen. The director, Olantunde Osunsanmi, purports include “real” footage of unexplained phenomenon that transpired in Nome, Alaska during the early years of the 21st century, but there are plenty of clues both in the footage and outside of it that debunk its veracity. One doesn’t need to be aware that no one named Abbey Tyler practiced psychology in Alaska to know this woman is not real. The makeup applied to her face during her “interviews” is not convincing and the unidentified actress playing Abbey may cause pause even for those who want to buy what Osunsanmi is selling.
Although it’s fascinating to dissect the movie on an intellectual level and examine what pieces and structural choices work and don’t work, I’m sure that’s not how the filmmakers intended their production to be approached. On a purely narrative level, The Fourth Kind offers the occasional “boo!” moment but is too tame (consider the PG-13 rating) to generate any lasting horror and too contrived to work on a dramatic level. The best thing I can say about it is at least it’s not another Asian horror remake.