The Fourth Kind begins with the comely Milla Jovovich informing us, PSA-style, that she will be portraying Dr. Abigail Tyler (a fictional person) and that the events we are about to see are based on some sort of fact, and apparently Nome, Alaska is this hotbed of alien abduction.
Furthermore, we are treated to the ghostly pale waif of the "real" Dr. Tyler, who narrates her story with heart breaking certainty of the events. She's all eyes and lank hair; nothing like Jovovitch, giving the film this weird deconstructionist bent. We've all seen TV and entertainment, and we've seen a few alien abduction movies as well, so the angle they take assumes you are used to the effects of both. In a way, it's interesting.
But in a more accurate way, it's as pretentious as this next sentence:
As a deeply cynical man who shaves with Occam's Razor, I must point out that technically everything is "based on a true story." Good fiction writers tend to derive most of their stories from real life, to inform believability.
And while not really believable, I can't fault this movie's construction. Many of the scenes throughout the film, are shown in split screen, with the "archival" footage right next to dramatized version of what we're watching.
Initially this is irritating, but it grows on you. This dramatic sleight of hand forces you to choose which version you're going to watch, and because a good deal of the archival footage is in the grainy black and white we usually see on America's Dumbest Criminals' convenience store robbery footage, you will probably end up watching the one with Ms. Jovovitch.
Veteran character actor Will Patton plays the town's "Don't Trust me no science" sheriff, who believes that Dr. Tyler is causing every single problem the town has with her "brain magicks". At one point, Tyler's daughter is abducted, and the sheriff immediately asks her what she did with the tot. Tyler says she was taken through the ceiling by aliens. It's an odd scene because the audience really isn't on either side. The sheriff is being a douche, Tyler is rightfully hysterical, but we start to realize that both of them acting like they're in a community theater audition and it's not going to get them anywhere productive.
However, they do get somewhere fast though, as movie has momentum in spades. There's barely a moment where something is not going wrong, people are shouting over each other, or having disturbing physical reactions to hypnosis.
Is this movie schlock? Not in terms of construction of story, but in terms of the "this is totally real!" conceit, oh yeah. To sell its point even further, the film wraps up with UFO sighting calls to local law enforcement, almost all of which are in California, and Utah. One was most disturbingly from Baltimore, Md.
Really? I can deal with the absurd Gotham-before-Batman crime rate in Charm City but Aliens, too?
You are told several times to believe what you want, by people who supposedly hold a Ph.D. in something other than bullshit. After seeing the film, I'll believe the residents of Nome were disappearing due to the always deadly but far more mundane combination of cold weather and alcoholism.