On the Heels of Paranormal Activity, The Fourth Kind Comes Off the Weak Imitator

Seventy-one years after Orson Welles's War of the Worlds radio broadcast snookered a gullible American public with its real-time alien-invasion scenario, The Fourth Kind writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi tries a similar gambit, albeit with less showmanship than Welles had in his pinky finger. Likely rushed into cinemas to cash in on the more recent (and also superior) you-are-there scare tactics of Paranormal Activity, The Fourth Kind purports to be based on the research of a Nome, Alaska, psychologist, Dr. Abigail Tyler, who discovered strange consistencies in the testimonies of several sleep-deprived patients. Under subsequent hypnotherapy, those patients recovered memories of alien abduction—and occasionally levitated, spoke in demonic tongues, and did other freaky, Exorcist-type stuff. In a series of Unsolved Mysteries–style reenactments, an anesthetized Milla Jovovich plays the good doctor (with hammy backup from Will Patton as a local sheriff and Elias Koteas as a fellow shrink), while the "real" Tyler appears in fashionably degraded "documentary" footage, including a hilariously overwrought onstage interview with Osunsanmi even less convincing than the film's ostensible dramatizations. A couple of modestly effective shocks lie in store, but none as frightening as the onscreen text informing us that some 11 million people claim to have seen a UFO. Still, even the we-are-not-alone crowd may be forced to concede that the only thing one senses lurking beyond the edges of The Fourth Kind's frame is a PA holding a reflector board.

 
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