Horror Movies

THE FOURTH KIND. WTF of a science fiction horror

In the Paranormal Activity trampled by me into the ground, a ghost haunted, who didn’t record on the camera…

Rafał Donica

16 December 2023

THE FOURTH KIND. WTF of a science fiction horror

…, so we were supposed to fear its footsteps, powdery footprints on the floor, and an invisible hand pulling the characters out of bed. According to the grandiose announcements, The Fourth Kind was supposed to be a film x times more terrifying than Paranormal Activity, brrr… frightening! I just think, if PA didn’t scare me at all, then talking about greater fright in the context of this film doesn’t really resonate with me because, if something is supposed to be multiplied by zero, even if it tries hard, it will remain zero. And I wasn’t wrong, as it turned out that there is nothing more terrifying than PA in The Fourth Kind, and the only thing that is more is… that you see more of nothing.

For The Fourth Kind to cause goosebumps from the first minutes of the screening, the creators announced in a thunderous introduction that scenes with actors such as Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Elias Koteas, and others would be interspersed with scenes recorded by VHS cameras, on which we would see the same events, only with real (although actually recordings created for the film) participants. And here begins a decent comedy because it’s certainly not any sci-fi thriller. On one side of the screen, a mesmerized actor replays, for no apparent reason, what we see on the other side of the screen in the supposedly-original. When something traumatic is remembered by the hypnotized person, both the actor and the supposedly-authentic hero of the events scream loudly. To avoid monotony, the screen in these scenes is divided, either vertically, horizontally, into 4 small screens, or into “24”. This was probably supposed to add realism to the events, but it only creates unnecessary confusion. Most annoying, however, was when every time the characters started levitating or were pulled by some extraterrestrial forces, the image recorded by the camera started to snow, and nothing could be seen. I felt as if during watching a football match on TV, someone was tilting my antenna during an action in front of the goal.

The Fourth Kind Milla Jovovich

However, in the sound layer, we are in for a real feast… if someone likes to listen to drunken babble, grandly called in The Fourth Kind the oldest language in the world. The fast-paced editing, dynamic camera work, and some glimpses of the Bible, ancient rocket sculptures, and other mystical nonsense are an attempt to add drama to the events. Instead of adding an aura of mystery to the film, they are reminiscent of tacky discoveries from a lousy TV station. However, the most annoying thing was a certain annoyingly repeated motif that runs through the entire film. Hypnotized individuals, before killing someone in their family, tell with horror that they saw outside the window – attention, the tension reaches its zenith or slightly above – an owl, which, according to them, wasn’t actually an owl. Moreover, it smiled, but what that smile means, they can’t say because, as they say, they don’t want to know what they mean when they say the owl was smiling (sic!). They sure have problems. Instead of going out on the porch and hitting the owl with a broom, or checking what that owl is since it’s not an owl, they prefer to fall into paranoia and kill their loved ones.

The Fourth Kind Milla Jovovich Elias Koteas

Once I saw a bat in my house. I mean, I hope it was a bat, because if it wasn’t, I’ll probably reach for a weapon and start killing. Fortunately, the bat didn’t smile. In conclusion, such owls, that is, I think that since such funny reflections mainly come to me after watching The Fourth Kind, it means that the film was simply poorly made. All hypnosis scenes are tedious, not scary, too chaotically shot, and the cinematic material edited from archival footage is a big misunderstanding. Only the emaciated heroine of supposedly-real events makes a slightly unsettling impression; the rest is shallow, boring, and bland, and all this next to the promoted “terror” probably didn’t even happen. At the beginning and end of the film, the actors speak to the camera, addressing the viewers: “You will decide what to believe.” After the screening, I believe that films using the maximally exploited motif from Blair Witch Project with supposedly-authentic horror tapes will finally stop being made.

The Fourth Kind Milla Jovovich Elias Koteas Hakeem Kae-Kazim

The creators of The Fourth Kind probably (I’m just guessing because I don’t know) tried to weave the plot of their thriller around the famous question from Twin Peaks: “Owls are not what they seem,” and they failed miserably. Moreover, they took the rule “what you don’t see is scarier” too literally and thought that if they didn’t show anything, the viewers would be scared out of their minds. They expected it to turn out dramatically, but it unintentionally turned out amusingly. In the next film in the series “we record extraordinary events with a private camera,” we will probably observe a black screen and listen to terrifying silence – the second heart attack for frightened youth (the first one happened during Paranormal Activity), and high cinema attendance guaranteed.

Rafał Donica

Rafał Donica

Since watching "Blade Runner", he has been passionate about cinema, loves "Akira", "Drive", "Escape from New York", "North by Northwest", the underrated "The Hateful Eight" and "Terrifier 2". Author of the book "Frankenstein 100 years in cinema". Founder and editor-in-chief (in the years 1999 - 2012) of the Polish film portal FILM.ORG.PL. Since 2016, a professional reportage photographer.

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