Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: The Fourth Kind (2009)

Director: Olatunde Osunsami
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Charlotte Milchard

I have too much faith in mankind. I didn’t actually think they were capable of creating a film this awe-inspiringly bad with this much work put into it, but they did. I guess all my confidence in humanity’s restraint and ability to not suck was in vain. Or vein. Feel like slashing any of them open yet? Well, if not, you probably will after seeing this horseshit. This is…The Fourth Kind.

The movie opens in a very unconventional fashion with Milla Jovovich standing in front of a cheap looking dark background talking about how she’s playing a character in this movie that is based on true events, and that what we are about to see contains shocking footage. Uh, I’m sorry, but wouldn’t this have been better if you just put it on the back of the DVD box or something? It’s not usually the best idea to start a movie with one of the actors telling us what to expect before the story begins. Oh, wait, it’s based on true events. For real. Like, so real that it could happen to you.

So then we get our first couple of scenes, showing a “real footage” tape of a doctor named Abigail Tyler, who is played by Milla Jovovich in the cinematic interpretation but is also a real person on this real tape…yeah, it’s confusing. We see her getting some therapy for the traumatizing events in her life lately: apparently her husband was murdered one night and it somehow gave her daughter such a shock that she went blind. Hey, cheer up, lady. At least you get your real name put under you as you get introduced in each scene. I’m sure we’d forget who Milla Jovovich was pretty fast if they didn’t do that!

And then after that we switch through some alternating scenes of real footage and the actual movie, which are so jumbled up that it’s near impossible to make any sense of whatsoever. I guess the plot is something along the lines of, Tyler’s patients are suffering from nightly terrors of the same thing all the time, and they can never remember exactly what it is until they’re put into hypnosis. That’s all fine and well, but how am I supposed to care about this? It’s hard to give a shit when you never stay on the same scene for more than five seconds!

The directing…oh, God, this is stupid. The film seems to think it’s clever to show scenes randomly in split screens of two or even four. What, is this a scrapbook now? Mommy’s First Alien Abduction or something? That’s ridiculous; can’t you hacks just tell a story the regular way? I don’t really need to have all this pointless showmanship to watch a movie about fucking aliens, for Pete’s sake! And what the hell is the logic in showing both the ‘movie’ and the ‘real footage’ side by side half the time? I only signed up to watch ONE MOVIE you know, not two of them at the same time!

The film drags on…no, I’m serious, you guys, I can barely even keep track of what’s going on. These characters are introduced for like a millisecond before each scene is run through a filter of annoying static and shaky cameras making it hard to even know what the fuck is going on. The movie shoots for realistic and mostly comes off as half-assed. The acting is just banal too, without a trace of any kind of pathos at all. Yeah, for a story trying to be real and spooky, Milla Jovovich sure comes off like she just doesn’t give a crap. And watch the scene where the guy is about to shoot his wife and kid in the house with all the police surrounding it. He just sounds so bored. “No, really, I’m paranoid and in agony. I’m about to shoot my kids.” Insert yawn here. “Really.”

This actor just watched The Fourth Kind.

But at least the real footage of the whole thing is intact and actually much more entertaining and creepy than the movie itself. God, it’s like I’m right there! This realistic footage is so gritty and so real that it’s sending chills down my spine.

So let’s see if I can sum up the rest of this story, jumbled as it is. Basically Jovovich talks to this other random guy while the movie thinks it’s clever to split the screen and show the exact same thing in crappy home movie format, and then he somehow ends up with a broken spine, paralyzed from the neck down, which the cops think is Jovovich’s fault for some reason and put her under house arrest. Unfortunately they do this right before aliens abduct her daughter. This is seen through the shaky home-cam vision as a cop watches from outside – although the tape gets messed up and nobody can see what happened.

Gah! This realistic footage is just blowing me away! It’s just so tense and scary! Wait. What’s that?


This real footage isn’t actually real? What do you mean it’s not real? It’s right there! They said in the beginning of the movie that it was, so it must be true, right? What about the real Abbey Tyler, huh? What do you have to say about THAT?

…Oh. Well…I see then. Ahem. I must now modify my very obviously not sarcastic position in this review to better reflect what the truth really is.

Let me just get this straight. So…this movie actually went the extra mile from telling us that some hokey documentary is a real story and actually filmed their own fake footage to look like a home-camera documentary and claimed that was real, all while over-lapping those with the other scenes with Milla Jovovich? They actually made two separate movies, both fake, and then told us one of them was real? Well, give them some credit for trying, I guess. It’s stupid as hell, but you can’t claim they weren’t trying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much creativity put into making a movie suck this hard – that’s some commendable effort to worthlessness right there, even I have to admit.

But even then, it doesn’t save the rest of the movie. They actually bring in some stuff about ancient Sumerian languages after they catch some ‘alien’ mutterings on a tape of Abbey Tyler’s? Excuse me while I laugh; this is so hokey and coughed up that I could smell it from a mile away. It’s cute that they’re taking it so seriously though. And monumentally silly, too – the acting is just so cardboard that you can practically see their cue cards hovering behind the camera.

Then after some more idiotic directing that basically looks like the movie’s reels got lost on a conveyor belt at the airport, we get some ‘scary’ attempts. They go to talk to that guy who got paralyzed before and apparently the aliens use his body to try to talk to them or something – I don’t know; it looks retarded. He floats up in the air like a deficient parade float and screams a bit in some weird tongue and I guess we’re supposed to be scared.

Because watching two shitty scenes is always better than watching one!

Just like later on when Jovovich and the fake-real-Abbey Tyler character are shown in dual screens both reliving the alien experience they shared and…somehow remembered this time, unlike the previous times. They scream a lot, make agonized, over the top faces and the camera even cuts away for a few minutes to nothing but a black screen with some static fuzzing on one side while you hear some screeching that I guess is supposed to be the aliens’ voices. You get to see some subtitles of what the aliens are saying, but we’re really supposed to look at this cacophony of noise and screeching and say “Hey! That’s really intimidating!”? Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s about as scary as a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink.

Lesson learned from this: If you’re going to make a movie and try to sell it as a true story…do a better job than this. I mean this is just a mess on every level imaginable, from the woeful acting to the abysmal crap that is the aimless, meandering directing. It says a lot when the most alien thing in your science fiction horror movie is Milla Jovovich’s wooden acting. And that whole thing with the fake footage being passed off as real on the side of the actual movie they made? It’s a cinematic train wreck! It really is worth seeing just for the awe-inspiring effort put into making it so ridiculous, but even then, only see it once. That’s enough for anyone really. After that, you can just toss this crap-fest of a film into the garbage where it belongs.