Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Elias Koteas, Corey Johnson
Abel: Counseling a fellow psychologist is like…talking to myself.
A psychologist, Abbey Tyler (Jovovich), starts to suspect that the sleep problems several of her patients are experiencing might be linked to something mysterious. As she investigates, she slowly realizes that the same phenomenon might be happening to her too.
“Just when you thought it was safe to go back to bed!” That would have been my tag line for this cleverly disguised Jaws clone. “What does this have to do with Jaws”, you may ask? “Not much”, I would answer, “but it makes it more fun to write the review, so let’s roll with it.”
First you have Abbey, filling the role of Martin Brody from Jaws. Brody was sure there was a killer shark dining on the beach goers on Amity Island, just like Abbey is sure something very strange is going on with her patients. Enter the angry Sheriff August (Patton). His equivalent role in Jaws is that of Mayor Vaughn (“Come 4th of July, these beaches will be open!”). Sheriff August thinks Abbey is playing mind games with people and wants her to just stop it stop stop it STOP IT STOP IT!! Yeah, he’s an angry man.
Next, there’s the Matt Hooper equivalent, Awolowa Odusami (Kae-Kazim), an expert on ancient cultures who believes that extraterrestrials have been visiting earth since ancient times. He believes in Abbey and helps translate some audio of a strange voice speaking in Sumerian (“Who ya gonna call!?”). Lastly there’s Abel (Koteas), who can less directly be compared to Captain Quint in Jaws. He’s an older colleague of Abbey’s who she brings in to help out. He’s doubtful that anything extraordinary is really happening. That is, until he starts to experience it up close.
Now, here’s the thing about Jaws. Mr. Spielberg, courtesy of a malfunctioning robotic shark, stumbled onto a stroke of genius by not showing said shark very much in the early going of the movie. Just a fin here, a tooth there, until he’d built as much tension in the viewer as in the ropes on John Goodman’s favorite hammock. Then, there’s that big moment where the shark first rises up out of the water, resulting in the audience bolting up out of their seats, running for the exits, and moving to Nebraska (seriously, the population of Nebraska doubled in 1975, look it up*). The point being, he did actually show the shark at some point. Well, in The Fourth Kind, we get that tension building first hour of the movie, where we see hints of alien activity, but then…nothing…no pay off. Sorry to be Mr. Spoiler, but we don’t see any aliens in this movie, people. They are merely implied via weird voices on tape and some shadows in the dark.
Of course, the gimmick in this movie is that along with the regular movie, there’s supposedly actual footage from the *real* Dr. Abbey Tyler’s sessions with various residents of Nome, Alaska. Plus, we have a supposedly real interview with her spliced in there too. I use the word “supposedly” because clearly none of it is real. I’m not sure they’re even trying to fool us into thinking it’s real. So basically at times we’re watching the same scene played out by two different actors on screen at the same time. As a regular movie on one side of the screen and low quality video footage on the other side. Why do this? Well, because sometimes (i.e. anytime something interesting happens) the supposedly real video footage experiences interference and becomes unwatchable. Convenient.
This is a total miscalculation of a movie. The director, Olatunde Osunsanmi, probably should have just gone with either a straightforward movie or a faux documentary. Combining the two was distracting and removed any scariness that could have been built up. Plus, maybe some sort of pay off would have been nice, you know, to thank the audience for sticking around the whole time.
Really, this just seems like a glorified Sci-Fi Channel special about alien abduction. Actually, just take “glorified” out of that last sentence. I suppose the actors do a good job (especially the ones on the supposedly real footage) and the movie mostly looks good, but so what? In the end I was just left saying, “that’s it!? …Where’s the shark!?”
*may not be an actual statistic
Don’t live in Nome, Alaska.
10 – 4 for meandering all over the place and being mostly pointless – 1.5 for building mild tension and having no interesting pay off = 4.5