Dave's Rating:


Not an E.T. in the bunch

Who's In It: Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Elias Koteas

The Basics: Milla Jovovich, first thing, walks right up to the camera, looks straight at you and says "Hi, I'm actor [and fashion designer and singer and best witty-retort-giving judge on Project Runway ever, maybe] Milla Jovovich and I play 'Dr. Crazy Lady Outer-Spacenuggets' in The Fourth Kind." And you might be tempted to believe her when she tells you that everything you're about to see is true--because when, really, has Milla J ever let you down?--but then the movie starts and you realize it's all a big fakeout. They even go so far as not to credit the actors who appear in the "real" archival footage of "actual case studies," and because none of these people are as attractive as Milla, you might be re-tempted to think it's not a hoax. Mistake. Oh, by the way, this movie is about scary alien abduction and is still occasionally kind of badass even though it's all a lie.

What's The Deal: You can trick people just by putting something on grainy VHS and shaking the camera around. It's that easy. So when the image on screen splits in half and and two actors, one identified as such and the other not, are side-by-side competing to see who, under movie-hypnosis, can freak out the hardest and contort their face into horrifying mouth-shapes, it's really effective. Especially the guy from the trailer who bolts upright and levitates. That's a jolt. And a really decent one, too. In fact, if you're willing to just forget that you're watching a ridiculous B-movie and give in to the griftiness, it's kind of a creepy, schlocky good time.

How It Works: Aside from the slick "re-enactment" stuff butting up against fuzzy, rolling, night-vision-cam footage (an inventive way of Blair Witching you into believing), it's almost as if the director said to the credited actors, "Okay, be sort of stiff and showy and yell a lot even when it's not appropriate, just like you're re-enacting something on one of those true-crime cable shows. That way it'll make the no-name case-study people seem even more on the level."

Who The Filmmakers Must Be Hating Really Hard Right Now: The Paranormal Activity gang, who just took the camcorder stuff and made it be their whole movie. And for way less money.

And the Award for "Best Seething Contempt From a 12-Year-Old Kid" Goes To: The child actor (sorry, he's not even listed on IMDb yet) who plays Milla's fed-up son. By the time she goes round the bend in the third act, he's practically calling the cops on her himself. Most audience-empathy-tapping performance in the whole movie.


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