Making the Grades
The Fourth Kind is a purported documentary reenactment of human disappearances in the remote, northerly location of Nome, Alaska. The documentary portion of the movie is based on "archival footage" filmed by Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychiatrist who reportedly discovered a link between her patients and alien abductions during hypnotherapy sessions conducted in her office.
However (at the time of this writing), both the doctor’s biography and the Alaska Psychiatry Journal that posted it online also seem to missing.
The film is directed by Chapman University alum Olatunde Osunsanmi and the campus has a prominent presence in the movie as a location for interviews between the "real" psychiatrist and the filmmaker. The script then mixes alleged actual clips with dramatizations in which Milla Jovovich (of Resident Evil fame) plays Abigail.
Following the brutal, unsolved stabbing of Abigail’s husband, her friend and coworker (Elias Koteas) encourages her to take some time off. But the doctor insists on resuming her work with her troubled victims, many of whom report seeing a white owl outside their windows.
Then after one man (Corey Johnson) is put under hypnosis, he experiences horrible memories and later kills his wife and children while helpless police officers watch through the front window. (This scene supposedly includes actual police video of the event.) In the aftermath of the murder/suicide, the sheriff (Will Patton) hauls Abigail in for questioning about her part in the tragedy.
What is touted as a scientific study quickly spirals into a cheap horror film that relies on a typical pounding musical score, dark, rainy nights and screeching aliens that sound remarkably similar to every other space visitor Hollywood has introduced to audiences. Rather than getting hard evidence into the possibility of alien abductions, viewers are instead introduced to a woman haunted on many fronts and dealing with overwhelming grief. While the movie will likely entertain those who want a good scare, the concept of using disturbing (and apparently real) video of a family being murdered is a new low for entertainment. Coupled with prolific profanities and a depiction of a married couple engaged in sexual activity, The Fourth Kind seems more like an examination of the line between personal fiction and reality rather than the possibility of escalating levels of alien encounters.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Fourth Kind.
Abigail and other psychiatrists in this film use hypnotherapy as part of their treatment plan. What impact does it have on her patients? How does the doctor lead them through the process? To learn more about this practice, visit the University of Maryland Medical Center.
What stresses do front line care providers face that are different from those encountered by the general public? What effect might this have on their physical and emotional wellbeing?
How are aliens portrayed in this film? Does it differ from other depictions? Why is it often scarier to not see actual extraterrestrials?