Home / Film / Movie Review: The Fourth Kind

Movie Review: The Fourth Kind

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

For those who take the subject matter seriously, it has been a long held belief that Hollywood doesn't have a very good track record when it comes to films dealing with the subject of UFOs and alien abduction.

In fact, most, if not all of the big-screen films based on actual UFO and alien abduction case files — from Communion to Fire In The Sky — have been disasters from the perspective of those who have either investigated or actually experienced such encounters.

In the case of Communion, author and contactee Whitley Strieber is portrayed in such a way as to suggest the only "close encounter" he has experienced is one of the psychotic kind. To anyone familiar with the abduction case of Travis Walton, there are entire scenes of his story as told in Fire In The Sky that simply never happened.

Like those films, Universal's The Fourth Kind purports, and in fact goes to great lengths to convince the viewer that it too is based on actual events — except that it isn't. The only back story here is rather the result of one of those viral marketing campaigns which most recently worked so well for Paranormal Activity.

The Fourth Kind centers on a series of unexplained disappearances occurring in Nome, Alaska (that part is real) which may be tied to alien abductions (that part isn't). Milla Jovovich plays Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychiatrist investigating the cases. The title refers to what ufologists call a close encounter of the fourth kind, which involves alien abduction. Steven Spielberg's famous film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind refers to contact. This movie should in no way be confused with Spielberg's classic though.

In the opening scene, Jovovich appears as herself, and explains she will be portraying Tyler, and that the film includes actual audio and video footage from Tyler's case files. This illusion continues with director Olatunde Osunsanmi interviewing the "real" Tyler, and then throughout the film with split-screen images of Jovovich and the other Abigail Tyler often simultaneously reciting and acting the same lines and scenes.

As a storytelling device, it's a clever one and does seem to lend an air of authenticity to the story, as the events, some of which are pretty terrifying, unfold on screen. The trick is, however, revealed for the ruse it is, when some of the actors portraying the abductees are actually more convincing at expressing terror than their counterparts in the "real" footage. One scene which purports to show an abductee driven by madness to murdering his family, in particular, exposes the parlor tricks at work here.

Even so, The Fourth Kind plays this card right up until the end of the movie. It's a clever enough idea to a point, but one can only willingly suspend disbelief for so long, until it just becomes a distraction. By the time phenomena more closely resembling demonic possession than anything from classic alien abduction cases begins to manifest, the thin strings holding the plot together completely unravel.

What's left is an uneven mess that plays like one part Close Encounters multiplied by several times The Exorcist. The cast mostly gets an A for effort in a lost cause — particularly Jovovich and the actress portraying the "real" Dr. Abigail Tyler, and I'll even give director Osunsanmi credit for a noble try at something a little different as far as his storytelling method goes.

At the same time, though, The Fourth Kind loses points for trying a little too hard to push a story that simply doesn't hold up. Studio-created websites aside, a Google search for "Nome alien abductions" turns up little to support it.

While there have been some unexplained disappearances in Nome over the years, F.B.I. investigations suggest these may have been due more to bad weather, tough terrain, and close encounters of the alcoholic kind.

As escapist entertainment, The Fourth Kind is harmless enough. Even so, it fails to redeem or change Hollywood's poor track record for telling a good alien abduction story. Sadly, that record remains very much intact.

Powered by

About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Peter Beley

    Mr Boyd I was interested in your artical on the film the Fourth Kind but you have neglected your source on debunking the main theme of the film. Where are your facts coming what proof do you have that these people have not indeed been abducted You do have something more then just the fact that you are sceptical If not the fact that you think its not logical or believable does not constitute evidence that it is not factual. Please enlighten us with the names of your experts.

  • My expert is Google. I searched the web for any references to Dr. Abigail Tyler, Nome disapearances, Nome alien abductions, etc.

    What I found (in addition to the studio generated fake websites) were legitimate articles from Alaskan newspapers debunking the Nome abduction story, and nothing whatsoever about it from the usual ufological sites like MUFON (I’m a bit of a student in that field myself). I also found absolutely no record of an actual Dr. Abigail Tyler (there are several references to a baby named Abigail Tyler who died in a drowning accident though).

    I keep up on UFO sightings quite a bit myself, and never heard anything of this prior to the viral marketing of the film which is what first raised my suspicions.

    As I noted in the review, there have been mysterious disappearances in Nome, but none appear to be related to UFOs, aliens, or to someone named Dr. Abigail Tyler.

    Its fiction.


  • One last point with regard to comment #1…

    Without spoiling the film too much, it also really veers away from the classic experiences described in most of the classic alien abduction cases on record (Betty and Barney Hill, Travis Walton, etc.) and more towards the sort of phenomena associated more commonly with cases of demon possession. See the film for yourself, and then you can tell me if you disagree.


  • isabel ann

    This movie was stunning!! I saw it twice it’s first weekeng out. Glen, I couldn’t agree with you less. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but if that’s a hoax for entertainment….. then WOW!

  • Riveting film. More mysterious than most similiarly-themed films.

  • Be careful when you assume because this didn’t happen in Nome, that this sort of thing ISN’T happening at all. Unfortunately, it is. I enjoyed this movie, knowing that the story was a very creative embellishment. We recall that Moby Dick was such an embellishment; whose fiction did nothing to discount the existence of whales, or crazy sea captains.

  • I make no such assumptions David which you would know if you read both the review and my earlier comments more carefully.


  • Mike

    I saw the movie before researching it, and found it quite disturbing, because I didn’t know that the opening statements were lies. In the movie, the part about Sumeria I assumed was simply a mistake by the investigators. After finding it was a prank, I feel defrauded. Go to youtube and watch the kids’ videos of their “real” UFOs (frizbees). If you enjoy fakery and hoaxes, you’ll like this. If you are interested in genuine abduction mysteries, save your money.

  • Agree Mike, that point was where the movie really derailed from a decent abduction story into the realm of demons and lost any of the “based on actual events” illusion. Total nonsense at that point.




  • My position is not that I don’t think abduction stories are real…in fact, I have no doubt that many of them have some validity to them.

    My position IS that this particular movie purports to present a specific case as being REAL, when it is fact a Hollywood fabrication.

    This does no favors to the ufological community or to those who have actually experienced abduction phenomena (whatever it may actually be).


  • Zack.

    The public would never hear about a story like this, due to the government covering everything up. Now I don’t believe everything in this movie but the scene were Dr tyler goes under, And she starts talking to the alien, The part were her jaw looks like it about to get ripped off, I really can’t see any actor acting in that way or state of mind, thats just to insane.

  • The part where the “alien” sounded more like a demon, spouting off about being God…now that was insane, and quite a departure from any classic abduction cases I am aware of. Where’s Linda Blair when we need her?