The Fourth Kind links the widely recognised phenomenon of sleep paralysis with the purely fictional idea of alien abduction. Photograph: Universal Pictures/PR
The Fourth Kind is, in so many ways, a really awful film. Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi and released in the UK over the weekend, it purports to be a dramatic reconstruction of events that took place in the city of Nome, Alaska, involving the disappearance of local residents. If you were to accept this film at face value, you would be left in no doubt whatsoever that these disappearances were the result of “close encounters of the fourth kind” – abduction by aliens.
The film employs several far-from-subtle techniques in an attempt to convince viewers that what they are watching is based entirely upon documented evidence. Both the trailer and the film itself open with an assurance to that effect, direct to camera, from the film's star:
“I am actress Milla Jovovich and I will be portraying Dr Abigail Tyler. This film is a dramatisation of events that occurred October 2000. Every scene in this movie is supported by archive footage. Some of what you are about to see is extremely disturbing.”
At least the latter statement is accurate, although not for the reasons intended by the filmmakers.
Both trailer and film frequently cut between allegedly real footage of hypnotic regression sessions carried out by psychologist Dr Tyler on her patients and dramatic reconstructions of these same sessions, sometimes employing a split-screen technique to show both simultaneously to “prove” that the reconstructions are 100% accurate. This approach seems to have backfired badly on the filmmakers as most reviews of the film are highly critical of this unconvincing “archive footage”.
Kyle Hopkins wrote an excellent piece for the Anchorage Daily News debunking the movie. He conceded that there is a long history of disappearances and suspicious deaths in Nome. They have been investigated by the FBI who “mostly blamed alcohol and the cruel Alaska winter”.