Devil’s DVD Advocacy: The Fourth Kind
The Fourth Kind is a tale of two movies eliciting two wildly different reactions – all of it completely relying on what you believe. Or who you believe. The underlying skepticism that determines one’s joy or misery does not come from a trust in the supernatural and their nocturnal dealings – the main plot of the film – but whether or not to trust Milla Jovovich.
Against a crystalline forest backdrop, Milla reaches through cinema’s fourth wall, telling the audience that the following scenes are taken verbatim from transcripts and recordings from “real” life. Not only that, but some of these grainy videos and sounds may be disturbing. The decisive question looms before the audience: Do you believe her?
If you do (as I did) the remainder of the movie plays out like a documentary, complete with archival footage of a startling domestic disturbance, exorcism-esque levitations, and ghastly warnings from beyond. All of this is told through the (bulging) eyes of Abigail Tyler, a psychologist treating sleep disorders in Nome, Alaska. When her startling countenance is compared to those in the grainy footage, it is immediately obvious that although she is alive to tell the tale the voyage is not to be taken lightly.
Believing all of this to be true – lured by the Sumerian groaning and back-breaking possessions – I was excited for the evidence this film uncovered. In my mind comparing The Fourth Kind to Paranormal Activity was blasphemy, akin to comparing apples and oranges. I left the theater wanting to know every ounce of historical background the director used and why I hadn’t seen or heard of it before.
But should one believe everything he/she is told? What if Milla was lying to me? What if she was lying to all of us?
Obviously, Hollywood loves to stretch the truth, further, even than a glob of Silly Putty. The Blair Witch Project isn’t that far removed from anyone’s mind (or the aforementioned Paranormal Activity) – another movie purporting to be “real”, or pieced together from “discovered footage”. But, somehow, that fib wouldn’t strike me as hard as this one. Perhaps because it is I knew Blair and Paranormal were bogus before stepping into the theater. Perhaps it was due to the actress reaching out to the audience – something I had never seen before – and creating an instant bond. Perhaps I believed it was true because I wanted it to be true.
Others claim to see through The Fourth Kind’s bull from the beginning, citing the film’s amateurish techniques used to envision a past that never was as a prime example of trickery. Did Tyler’s home movies always turn to static when the aliens arrived because of some electrostatic energy they emitted, or because there wasn’t enough money in the budget to model them? Without the crutch of “realness” lean upon (and heavily at that) The Fourth Kind would feel like a wide release B-movie. The plot is non-existent, filled with faulty logic and hokey dialog – something I glossed over and chalked up to the randomness and dullness of life.
If one has an open mind from the beginning, whether it is a belief in UFOs or merely a belief in being entertained, The Fourth Kind will deliver. On the other hand, a skeptic in any sense will most likely tear this film apart, a derivative of a second-rate genre. Until the director speaks up, revealing its validity or falseness, the truth is all in what one chooses to believe.