Simon Vesrano
Owen Gleiberman
November 06, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Fourth Kind

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
98 minutes
Wide Release Date
11/06/09
performer
Milla Jovovich, Corey Johnson, Will Patton
director
Olatunde Osunsanmi
distributor
Universal
author
Olatunde Osunsanmi
genre
Horror, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C

It’s been established that Paramount came close to remaking Paranormal Activity with movie stars and then releasing that version in place of the no-budget original. Had the studio followed through on that blundery plan, it’s possible that the result would have looked something like The Fourth Kind, an alien-abduction thriller that flirts with the sort of ”reality”-based fear factor that is likely to become the new vogue in horror. Except that the movie, weirdly, has one foot in each camp: scary-real and glossy-fake.

At moments, we see what is purported to be documentary footage of ordinary people in Nome, Alaska, as they experience alien encounters. The screaming and (at one point) levitating are creepy and unsettling in a power-of-suggestion, could this be authentic? way. So are scenes with a spooky waif of a psychologist (she’s like Carol Kane playing Joyce Carol Oates) who recalls the violent death of her husband. But wait?the film zigzags between these ”actual” events, which are shivery to see, and an overtly staged Hollywood version in which Milla Jovovich plays the psychologist and the ”real” scenes are reenacted. This is meant to make the ”documentary” stuff look more real, but it just hits you over the head with the fact that the movie itself is a cornball contrivance — and a draggy, rote, and listless one at that. Too often, The Fourth Kind makes the paranormal look disappointingly normal. C

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