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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Fourth Kind01:51 AM -- Wed October 23, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Milla Jovovich tells us how to pronounce her name (it's not what I always thought!), and then she, and another woman playing "real her", are psychologists treating several people who strangely all have the same delusions of an owl watching them in bed. She tries hypnosis on them, which tends to break them. Aliens ensue.

Scariness Type: Other than the lurking fear of what might be coming to get the characters, there isn't much to scare you. I've heard this movie is terrifying, but frankly, it didn't do anything for me. I think the big money shots are the weird/paranormal moments during a couple of hypnosis scenes, but hardly anything happens even then. I guess if you have it turned up loud, there will be a lot of noisy yelling that will bother you in these scenes.

Rating: 2.5/5 White Owls.

Body Count: 5

Fun Fact: The "real" psychologist looks so much like an alien herself. I really couldn't get it out of my head that the aliens had done some kind of alteration on her, but I think that's just the actress. And now I feel rude for insulting her. Well, I never said aliens looked bad, I guess?

Best Moment: It's not much, I know, but I can't help but note that at the beginning of the movie, each new major character that came onscreen had the actor and character's name displayed under them. I wish all movies did that, I'd know the names of actors so much better, and I'd even know some of the characters' names too! You'll note I'm still calling the psychologist Milla in this review though, so I didn't learn that much. Pretty sure the character's name was Abigail, in truth. But I did learn that Elias Koteas is that one balding guy - I recognized his name and his face, but didn't know they went together. Oh yeah, and he was Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtle movies!

Worst Moment: Enough with the hypnosis, movie psychologists! Seriously! Real psychologists almost never use that stuff. Yet it's all movie psychologists ever do.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The psychologist ends up under house arrest right when she is all set to get out of Dodge because she doesn't want aliens to abduct her. A cop is sitting outside watching her house, and he has a dash cam recording. So of course the aliens come during the night to get her. The dash cam catches this event, and amid all the static that aliens always cause in video, we can clearly see a huge UFO fly over the house to zap it. The cop gets out and runs to the house, freaking out that a UFO has stopped by. Here's my problem with this: if that was actually how they performed the abductions, then it wouldn't have been a secret for years and years... they would've been caught in the first week! Really, nobody else had ever been outside one of the abductee's houses at 3:33 in the morning ever before this?

Horror Tropes: Hmm, I don't have any good ones off-hand for you. Even though I found the movie's format strange and off-putting (combining clips of "real" footage with the dramatized version), what it accomplished was an anti-trope. It made it so they didn't have to do the traditional found-footage thing of coming up with reasons for everything to happen right in front of a camera. These people only used cameras when it made a decent amount of sense - the hypnosis sessions were filmed, the cop turned on a dash cam when watching the house (I kinda doubt that would happen, but it's not insane), and various interviews were filmed, which of course would have to be. All the stuff in-between was just dramatized. Interesting idea.

My Take: I could never quite get fully invested in this movie because of the two-movies trick. A lot of scenes would be like something out of 24 - the screen would be split into 2, 3, or even 4 blocks with different video on each one, and they had this trick which I'm sure they thought was clever, but totally pulled me out of the movie: they'd gradually stretch or shrink different boxes to emphasize them. That just had me thinking about the changing size of the boxes rather than watching what was going on in them. Now, most of the movie was just straightforward, but it was the key scenes that were done this way, so it kinda killed the mood. The whole proceeding would've been better as just a single movie, with no found-footage element. Anyway, with that aside, I just didn't like it too much. Nobody was really likeable, and a lot of them (most notably Milla's balding friend) were just outright hostile and unhelpful, despite encountering the exact same paranormal events she was. The evil alien threat also didn't do much of interest, and didn't seem to have a very interesting reason for being around. I think they were shooting for some kind of high-concept thing where these aliens had actually created humans in the first place, but they didn't do anything with that, so who cares?

Missed Opportunity: Do something with your aliens. They're aliens, come on! They can shapeshift, give bees smallpox, run for President, eat Reese's Pieces, whisper in Fred Flintstone's ear, cross borders illegally, use Macs, blow up world monuments, tear off human-like skin and eat mice, secretly run the government, dissolve when wet, recite poetry, parasitically infest and control humans, train kids to pilot spaceships via arcade games, fight cowboys, plant babies in your stomach, march in lockstep down the screen until they touch ground, wear Edgar suits, rule Omicron Persei 8, come in peace, and do so much more. You may consider this paragraph a fun game for your amusement.

The Lesson: Just say no to hypnosis.

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