Conveying the dread and sheer horror of an alien abduction is a difficult task. The Fourth Kind steps up to the plate and knocks this one out of the park. If you have never been fearful of abduction, you will be after seeing this film.

The Fourth Kind works so well due to its realistic portrayal. There aren’t any gooey CGI aliens, there aren’t any big battles or explosions, and there aren’t detailed accounts of a long-winded story. No, The Fourth Kind scares you with its subtlety. Set in Nome, Alaska, it explores reports of many missing or suicidal people, all of which report seeing a white owl outside their window. When put under hypnosis, they freak out and realize that it isn’t an owl, but rather…something. They report “the worse thing imaginable”, recall being taken away, and brought back, but never what their captors look like or what happens to them. In the film’s most effective scene, we witness an “event” in a nearly first-person perspective…yet the intruders are seen as nothing more than black, wispy shadows. (While I doubt you would take your children to see this film, I HIGHLY recommend not allowing them to watch this particular scene. It is done in a very intense and realistic manner, and would likely be too much for them.)

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Spliced throughout the film are archival videos taken during treatment sessions by Dr. Abigail Tyler. Her patients recall the terrible things stuck inside their head, and soon enough she herself becomes tangled in the web of the unexplained. I don’t know about the authenticity of this archival footage or if the entire story is based on actual events as the film makers claim, but the inclusion of this grainy and extremely realistic video ratchets up the tension exponentially and serves as the main source of gitchy feelings throughout this film.

The bulk of the film involves “reenactments” of events; however the acting is done so well you will at times forget you are watching a movie. Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, and Will Patton steal the show, with some of the best and most powerful acting they have ever done. Had this film been made with a camcorder circa 2000, you would believe the reenactments to be the real thing; they are truly that well done. The grainy archival footage is a bit hard to see even on the big screen, but the way it is edited into the film is fantastic. Put side by side with reenactment scenes, you can see just how well they replicated offices and other locations. Upon watching the credits (which were very short), the longest portion was a list of carpenters, which at one point took up the entire movie screen. Sound effects are also done very well, and even though it isn’t explicitly stated, the language spoken on certain recordings makes sense. The Fourth Kind is perhaps one of the scarier films you will see. Unlike a traditional horror movie, this film contends with an issue that millions of people around the world are direct witnesses to or have even experienced themselves. The straight forward presentation of events and gloomy, washed-out color add to the dread.

After viewing The Fourth Kind, you shouldn’t be afraid to be alone. After all, if you are going to be abducted, having an army surrounding you isn’t going to stop it.