Who’s Afraid of E.T.?

Okay, realistically, I am a little afraid of ET.  I mean, when he gets all sick and they find him all white in the creek.  Yeah, that’s scary.  But I ask this because I wonder how many of us are afraid that ET will come into our rooms at night.  I know I’m not.  At least I wasn’t.  Or maybe now I am.

Last night I watched The Fourth Kind.  (I also watched Chloe, and it was damn good, but as it’s not horror, I am not allowed to talk about it on this here site.)  The above paragraph will suggest that I loved The Fourth Kind, but that’s not entirely true.  What I will say up top is that it had me.  I was into it.  I was digging it.

In October of 2000, Dr.Abigail Tyler of Nome, Alaska witnessed a series of coincidences in her patients tales of sleep disturbances.  They all report having seen an owl both inside and outside their bedrooms.  Upon hypnosis, they reveal that no, it is not an owl.  It’s something else.  There is someone or something in their room, and it takes them away.

Gradually, these stories begin to infect the non-working life of Tyler.  Her husband, who died a number of months earlier, is said (by Tyler) to have been murdered, but there is no evidence other than her testimony to suggest this is true.  And she spends what time she does not spend with her (psychologically) blind daughter and angry son, in his study investigating his research on sleep disturbances in Nome.

That’s the general plot.

The film is filled with supposed archival footage.  Interviews between Tyler and the later director of this film.  Sessions audio recorded.  And hypnosis sessions video recorded by Tyler.  They supposedly relate the events exactly as they happened.  The rest is filled in with actress Milla Jovovich, who breaks the fourth wall at the beginning of the film to tell us that we are, in fact, watching a dramatization of true events.  Other actors are introduced in a way that reminds us that we are watching a film.  There is never any pretense that this is a full-engaging film into which we have found entrance.  We are never a part of the film.  We are always on the outside.

As a construct, this works on some levels and fails on others.  For one thing, to maintain the veracity of the events on screen, this works very well.  I did no research before watching the movie, and because of this, I actually found myself believing that some of the film was possible (not the alien abductions but the rest of it).  And this was a very effective part of the film for me.  (Let me remind you that I did love The Blair Witch Project, and I was totally terrified of it.)  As a result, the film works actually rather organically (mixed in with its marketing campaign) to really make us believe that events are true.

However, there is a problem with this construct.  It creates a certain level of detachment.  As I watched the film I was completely aware that I am sitting in a New York apartment and NOT in Nome, Alaska.  I can never be fully attached to the circumstances surrounding these events.  And this works to keep me a little disengaged from the film.  I’m just not there, you see.  And it’s the fault, more so, of that fourth wall breaking at the beginning.

In general, I kind of liked the film, I have to say.  It was very entertaining, which is all I really expected it to be.  And it’s all I wanted it to be.  And that it definitely was.  This film will not change the face of sci fi horror.  It will not prove the existence of aliens.  It will just lie flat on screen for all of us to enjoy.  And that, if you set your sights a little low, is exactly what you will do. (Let me just be clear and say that the events recorded are NOT real.  They were recorded by the filmmakers.  This movie is NOT true.)

There are other problems though.  Namely, Milla Jovovich’s acting.  She has a bit of the Angelina Jolie syndrome.  She just can’t seem weak.  The two women they paired to play both the “real” Tyler and Milla Jovovich is mind boggling to me.  A tiny mousy woman and then the woman who kicked zombie ass in RE.  This does not compute.  And I think it was a truly fucking bizarre choice for the filmmakers.  Though, I do think the woman who played the “real” Tyler was awesome.  She was truly, truly insane looking and acting.  Her expressions and voice added to the complication of the entire narrative.  She was fucking on, y’all.

But dude, Milla Jovovich kind of sucked.  And I really like her, so it took some serious effort for me to say that.  Yeah, actually she totally sucked.  She is so bad at being weak.  And Tyler is weak in many places.

Should you see it?  Hell, I don’t know.  I was entertained for 90 minutes, and I enjoyed watching it (and two exceptionally creepy sequences), so I would say to set your expectations low, and go in for some fun.  Yep.

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~ by acaseofyou12581 on April 4, 2010.

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