A film that didn't get too much notice when it hit theaters last fall, "The Fourth Kind", is a decently creepy, "X-Files"-lite alien abduction tale, with a few helpings of "Blair Witch" on the side. The picture is the latest from director Olatunde Osunsanmi, who was apparently director Joe Carnahan's assistant on "Smokin' Aces" and then wrote the second picture in that franchise.
"Fourth" is "based upon" the true writings of a psychologist in Nome, Alaska. Milla Jovovich plays Dr. Abigail Tyler, who moves to Nome after a tragedy occurs. (sort of like "Northern Exposure", if the Rob Morrow character was a female former model and the other characters were being abducted by aliens and it wasn't supposed to be funny.)
When a series of strange and troubling phenomenon are seen in the area and patients begin exhibiting strange symptoms, Abigail starts to believe that the cause may be otherworldly (and as it soon becomes apparent, not "we come in peace" otherworldly.) All the patients remember is waking up with an owl sitting outside the window watching over them.
However, given the tragedy in her recent past - which also left one of her children blind and the other changed - others, such as the local sheriff (Will Patton) remain skeptical of both her and her findings. When events become much darker and a patient goes unhinged after a session with Abigail, she seeks help from an expert (Hakeen Kae-Kazim) who provides surprising information about an audio recording.
The film does present itself as a pseudo-documentary, with "archive footage" presented alongside the film footage. It's up to the viewer to decide the reality of the footage, and the picture does successfully and enjoyably weave the "archive" footage (some of which is genuinely unsettling) within the film.
The performances could have been better, which would have helped the story come While Jovovich may not be in line for an Oscar soon, she's improved over time and there's something that continues to be enjoyably mysterious about her. Patton is disappointing in the role and could have used a more subtle approach. Elias Koteas also provides a decent supporting performance as a colleague of Abigail's.
Overall, "The Fourth Kind" does have some iffy performances, but it does generate a reasonable amount of atmosphere and some solid PG-13 scares.
VIDEO: "The Fourth Kind" is presented by Universal in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) and the results are quite good. The film's raw look is captured very well by the transfer, which shows fine detail and clarity in nearly all scenes. The picture's mildly grainy, gritty appearance at times is intentional and is handled well by this presentation. No instances of edge enhancement or artifacting were seen, and the print appeared free of specks, marks and other debris. Although there are some instances of richer, brighter colors, the film's color palette is otherwise understandably subdued. Colors looked accurate, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented with a DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio presentation. The film's creepy visuals are complimented well by the film's sound design, with surrounds kicking in to offer tense, spooky effects and superb ambience. Audio quality is excellent, with clear dialogue and crisp, well-recorded effects.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, D-Box enabled and BD Live-enabled.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "The Fourth Kind" does have some mixed performances, but it does generate a reasonable amount of atmosphere and a handful of solid PG-13 scares. The Blu-Ray presentation offers above-average audio/video quality, but nothing much in the way of supplements. Rent it.
The Film B-