There are three things that legitimately scare me, both in real life and in film, and they are: demonic possession, found footage, and aliens. In the past, we have covered possession ( which was a deeply unsettling month) and we will likely get to found footage in 2021, but it was only a matter of time when we would visit those beings from another planet.
Fire in the Sky (1993) and Dark Skies (2013) -- the films being discussed on the podcast this month -- are actually my two absolute favorite “The Greys” horror movies. The Greys are the typical looking aliens: large bulbous heads, enormous almond-shaped eyes, and small bodies. These are the most commonly witnessed species of extraterrestrials people see. There are many space horror/extraterrestrial films that I also adore like Alien (1979), Attack the Block (2011), Independence Day (1996), The Blob (1986), The Thing (1982), etc., and many non-horror that I grew up with like ET: The Extraterrestrial (1982) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Obviously, I couldn’t choose the podcast films for my horrific monthly pick, but then I remembered a film that I haven’t dared to revisit in years and that’s The Fourth Kind (2009).
An encounter of the fourth kind is abduction, the most terrifying encounter a human being can experience. This is the basis of The Fourth Kind and a film that scared the living daylights out of me when I watched it for the first time. It’s a very divisive film among horror fans and that’s something that I can understand. It combines both cinematic, reenactment segments and “real” footage to create a horrifying visual journey. These elements can become excessive, unnecessary and somewhat distracting from the emotional basis of the story, but for me, it doesn’t take away from the overall power of the film.
The Fourth Kind is therefore a pseudo documentary, proclaiming to be based on real events that occurred in Nome, Alaska in 2000. The main plot surrounds psychologist Dr. Abigail Emily Tyler as she uses hypnosis to uncover memories of alien abduction from her patients, and finds compelling evidence suggesting that she may have also been abducted. I will admit to you, while I was paralyzed with fear I really thought that this WAS based on real events. It was like The Blair Witch Project all over again! Little did I know that Universal created a real website to promote the film which contained fake news stories supposedly taken from real Alaskan newspapers, including the Nome Nugget and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
The cast is stellar: Milla Jovovich as Dr. Abigail "Abbey" Tyler, Elias Koteas as Abel Campos, and Will Patton as Sheriff August Thompson. The cinematography and location is quite stunning. It was shot in Bulgaria and Squamish, British Columbia, Canada which gave a very isolated, lush, and rich environment. Unfortunately, the film scenes are covered in that typical 2000s blue hue that was commonly found in horror movies at the time used to either cover up that they were actually filming in the daytime (not nighttime, or to create a sense of dread or bleakness.
The Fourth Kind checks off many of the items on my list for what I enjoy, and yet find very little of, when it comes to alien centered abduction films or films that portray “The Greys”. It doesn’t show too much during the abduction scenes and leaves a lot to the imagination of the audience. Which then allows for the film to continue to build on such incredible suspense and dread. These people are terrified of something they can barely articulate to the viewers. The Fourth Kind also touches on ancient alien theories (I am obsessed with this!) and how close encounters and abduction not only affects the people who experience them (and I firmly believe that people have!) but how it affects the surrounding community, family and friends. This is exactly what we will be discussing in the podcast so please check that out for more.
Although the format of The Fourth Kind is very “Hollywood” and over the top at times, I think it’s one of the best, and highly effective, alien abduction films and is worth a watch. Also, it combines found footage, possession and aliens -- everything that I fear.