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The Fourth Kind

Year: 2009
Studio: Universal
Director: Olatunde Osunsami
Producer: Terry Lee Robbins
Writer: Olatunde Osunsami/Terry Lee Robbins
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Elias Koteas

Of course it's been done before – we've seen alien visitation movies a million times. And of course the device of having the actors address the camera directly to tell you they're playing the parts of real people to make it seem more like fact is a bit ham fisted.

But it works. The performances are good – particularly from Jovovich, who has appeared in a long string of movies over years now that have failed dismally to capture the talent she shows here in a quiet, emotionally rich and nuanced performance as a grieving mother and psychoanalyst.

And in solid horror movie fashion we don't see nearly enough any more, it doesn't show you a lot of flashy special effects but impresses with what you can't see. Flourishes like the 'real' footage of a seeming demonic possession and police car video of something approaching a remote house are as creepy as anything we saw in Paranormal Activity.

Jovovich is Abbey, a small town shrink in far northern Alaska who has a disturbing number of patients telling her about visions and dreams in the night, something visiting them in the form of an owl. Even Abbey herself has felt a presence as she's tried to hold it together for her kids after her husband's recent death.

But as the film unravels we learn there's a history of disappearances in the town, and an academic she makes contact with makes Abbey think she might have the largest documented case of alien abduction.

It's moody, scary and effective, and the fact that it's as phony as a three dollar bill (yes, even the 'actual' footage) can be forgiven as a consequence.

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