Starring Milla Jovovich and Elias Koteas. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, November 6, at the Cinemark Tinseltown
What happened to those cute little aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind who just wanted to hold hands and play catchy tunes? The extraterrestrials in The Fourth Kind are really bad at friendly meet ’n’ greets and really good at nighttime visits to the bedrooms of unsuspecting residents of Nome, Alaska. Blood-curdling screams are a pretty universal sign that things aren’t going well in the cultural-exchange program.
Attempting to screw with fraidy cats who don’t want demonic-seeming aliens in their sleeping quarters, writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi decided to do a semi–Blair Witch Project approach. That means shaky hand-held camera and static effects so you can’t tell what the hell is going on or who or what is speaking ghastly sounds that later turn out to be, hmm, ancient Sumerian. That means you have to buy the flick’s fakey-doc side, claiming that the events on-screen really happened. That means believing Milla Jovovich as psychologist Abigail Tyler.
Jovovich is about as believable playing a psychologist treating Nome’s sleep-disordered as, well, your cat would be. Your kitty might actually be better at pretending to hypnotize people and also being scared shitless. The uncredited actor presented as the “real” Abigail Tyler, mostly seen being “interviewed”, feels buyable if that means so spaced-out you think aliens did mess with her. With Will Patton spewing scenery as the town sheriff, it’s great when reliable Elias Koteas shows up as Abbey’s colleague—except he looks embarrassed and then has nothing to do.
The scenes where hypnotized folks relive those nocturnal encounters do have a disturbing Exorcist bent, especially if you’re dumb enough to think about them at night in bed. But the eerie-jumpy bits simply don’t pan out satisfyingly or convincingly. And what’s with the creepy smiling owl?