The Fourth Kind features Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) as Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist who moves to the secluded town of Nome, Alaska to take up her murdered husband’s study on the natives’ sleeping habits. Many of the townspeople report an owl keeping them awake by staring into their bedroom windows late at night. When Dr. Tyler begins hypnotizing victims to get a better idea of what’s really keeping the citizens of Nome up at night, her husband’s study takes a terrifying turn into the realm of science fiction.
Cut with “real” footage of the Nome study, The Fourth Kind is presented in a rather unique documentary style. The film as a whole is presented like a super high budget episode of Unsolved Mysteries, with “real” footage and audio of the events at Nome interspersed with scenes of actors and actresses reenacting a dramatic narrative. With an introduction by actress Milla Jovovich and centered around a filmed interview between director Olatunde Osunsanmi and the “real” Abigail Tyler, the movie goes out of its way to bring that based-on-a-true-story feeling home.
While it seemed cheesy at first, I was surprised to find this format both effective and engaging. Whereas films with a strict actual footage approach, like the recent Paranormal Activity, can be either bought into or not, The Fourth Kind’s admitted mix of fact and fiction gives the viewer more room to wonder what's real. Since Jovovich immediately states that the majority of the film is acted fiction, the file footage is automatically set apart as fact. Whether or not anything like these events ever happened in Nome (hint: they didn’t), it sure seems like they could have.