I can't believe the hate this film got. Sure it rehashes the Blair Witch 'This is real footage' gimmick, but who gives a damn? Sure it's unoriginal, but you want to know why it doesn't matter? It does everything 'Blair Witch' does wrong, right.
As you who have had the misfortune of watching that piece of crap are familiar with, it's big claim to fame is that it was the first horror film to use (fake of course)'found footage'(it wasn't) as well as the first horror film to suggest it's monster but never show it(fine and dandy, if you overlook the many, many horror films that did the same thing many decades before, and better)and to not rely on blood and gore(overlooking the literal thousands of horror films without a single drop of blood in them). As any serious horror film fan knows, those claims are all a bunch of BS. But let's just say for a moment that( neglecting all of the obvious facts and overlooking crucial film history)all of those claims were right, the footage was real, the films of Val Lewton never existed, 'The Last Broadcast' and 'Cannibal Holocaust' didn't use the same concepts years before, and 'Blair Witch' really did innovate all the things it's fans claim it did. Well you know what? I don't care. 'Blair Witch' was a terrible movie anyway, and the fact that so many thought it was real is less a testament to the film's ingenuity, and more to the colossal stupidity of Indie film fans. Of all the 'subtle' horror films, it may be the most un-subtle ever made.
'The Fourth Kind' however, has no pretensions of subtlety or innovation. It fully acknowledges that it's a mockumentary that will try it's hardest to scare the living crap out of you, and to lure you in on an obviously bogus William Castle-style gimmick, and it delivers.
The film has all the feel of what it claims to be: A real life event which has 'real' footage juxtaposed with 're-enactments'. And if you didn't know better, it really is convincing. The 'actress' playing the 'real life' woman looks nothing like her counterpart; which provides for a wry commentary on films purporting to be based off true life events that cast super-attractive Hollywood actresses and actors as fairly average, homely people. By imitating this aspect, the film succeeds not just as a horror film, but as a subtle parody as well. Too bad most audiences can't grasp this.
The film is at it's best in the first half-hour, a real sense of menace and unease is created(the cinematography of the Alaskan mountains is top notch) and the 'real' footage that is interwoven in seems almost plausible. The characters are well-portrayed too and behave like real people, they can't believe what's going on and refuse too once they see proof. Once it's confirmed that the aliens are real, the film admittedly is weakened, but it still succeeds as an at times genuinely disturbing alien abduction flick. All of the actors do fine, intentionally hammy jobs, creating the feel of a real dramatization. I never liked Milla Jovovich, but she does a fine job here, convincingly creating an unbalanced but sympathetic character. We sympathize at first because we know she's right, but is she really? It's a truly harrowing psychological performance which is a refreshing new take on the old 'is the main character just imagining it?" trope. Will Patton also does a fine job as a despicable sheriff, who, in many ways, really is the villain of the film, but one with a considerable depth of character.
All of this helps to create a tangible atmosphere of horror. It's very similar to watching a good episode of 'Unsolved Mysteries', and if you enjoy shows like that, I can't recommend this enough. It may be fake and not based off real occurrences, but it still has that eerie, twilight feel that the best of those shows create.
But the real reason I loved this film? Simple. It finally ditches all the 'benevolent alien' crap we've had to put up with recently. I'm so sick of the belief that if aliens exist they would have grown past violence. Sure, it was great to read all those comic book and pulp stories where people would drive aliens away and find out in the last page that "Oh my god the alien just wanted peace! We are the real monsters for driving him away! WAAAA!", but that gimmick is OLD. I'm sick of it, frankly. There was 'District 9', 'Planet 51', and just recently, the biggest offender; James Cameron's "Mein Kampf' for whiggers, furries and hippies called 'Avatar'. Brrr. Give me aliens that are evil, bug-eyed, ray-gun toting monsters that abduct scantily-clad babes until some square-jawed hero blows their heads off! That's what alien movies should be! 'Fourth Kind' may not be that, but it comes closer to that awesome formula than all other recent alien movies. For daring to break away from the crappy 'sympathetic aliens' trend, that alone earns this film my eternal respect. Hopefully there will be more films like this, and finally, man can look up at the night skies again...and shiver. Just like Wells & Lovecraft wanted us to do.
So rent this movie and watch it(along with 'Invaders from Mars', 'The Thing'(both versions) 'Invasion of the Saucer Men', 'Not of this Earth', throw in 'Plan 9 from Outer Space' for laughs) cuddle 'round your fireplace(with 'District 9', 'Avatar', 'Planet 51' as firewood)) with a bottle of beer and some spicy cheezits, and take a trip back to when aliens were SCARY. Thank you so much 'Fourth Kind', on the behalf of all true sci-fi fans, you are a true rarity and a kind of film we need more of.
Review by OnAClearDayYouCanSeeAlias from the Internet Movie Database.