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MOVIES: 'Fourth Kind' takes the same path as 'Paranormal Activity' to scare audiences

The Associated Press. Milla Jovovich stars in the faux documentary, science fiction thriller "The Fourth Kind."

The Associated Press. Milla Jovovich stars in the faux documentary, science fiction thriller "The Fourth Kind."

The Fourth Kind (PG-13)

2 out of 4 stars

If you've seen "The Blair Witch Project" or the current "Paranormal Activity," liked them and believe both to be 100 percent factual, then "The Fourth Kind" will likely rattle your cage.

Making a whole bunch of these faux-documentary/science-fiction-horror flicks should be the first thing on every studio chief's "to do" list. "Blair" and "Paranormal" cost next to nothing to make and have generated the highest percentage of gross profit in the history of motion pictures.

"The Fourth Kind" is a little fancier variation on this theme as about half of it is a traditional, slickly produced Hollywood live-action affair with high-end production values and name acting talent. As splendidly mediocre as it is, it is presented in a quite original manner, albeit one that becomes thread-worn almost immediately.

The movie opens with actress Milla Jovovich as herself directly addressing the camera. There have been many movies where characters have broken down the imaginary fourth wall and spoken to the audience but never a live-action drama where a performer has done so.

Jovovich tells us she will be playing a psychiatrist named Abigail Tyler and everything we're about to see actually happened. Her brief speech achieves temporary validity when the real Dr. Tyler is shown being interviewed by the movie's writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi.

Throughout the film, dialogue delivered by the genuine Dr. Tyler and her actual patients breaks into split screen and is taken over by the performers portraying them and vice versa. In one scene, a grainy black and white police video showing multiple homicides plays out in full while a staged version does the exact same thing right next to it. This is an interesting way to present a narrative but beyond being novel, what purpose does it serve?

For one thing, it will make you forget you're watching a movie with a subpar plot that includes events that defy not only logic but every known law of science and physics. None of it could have happened but Osunsanmi's arsenal of nifty bells and whistles makes you believe it is happening. In movies, especially ones like this, perception is everything.

To get into plot specifics would rob potentially interested viewers of what would normally be referred to as twists. They're not twists in the traditional sense because they don't propel or alter the plot. In actuality they're a mass of carefully choreographed jolts that are a standard shock device for horror films.

The movie concludes with a where-are-they-now epilogue containing names, facts and figures that only add to the story's sleight of hand and ominous dread.

If you are interested in the movie and don't want your bubble burst, do the following only after you've seen it. If you don't plan on seeing it, do it now. Go to the Web site: http://seethirty.wordpress.com/ and enter "The Fourth Kind" in the search bar, hit enter and then make up your own mind.

There's nothing wrong morally, ethically, artistically or otherwise to make a film that presents fiction as fact. Studios have been doing this since there have been movies. It's entertainment and a movie like "The Fourth Kind" needs to be entertaining in order to validate its existence.

If it is guilty of deception then every magician or illusionist who ever practiced their craft for a paying audience is guilty as well. It's quite simple: some people like to be fooled. (Universal)