Sorry, What to Watch took a turkey day break as last week was really light on new product worth mentioning. This week? Pretty much the same but we don’t want you to miss us too badly. Here’s five recent Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming releases that may have caught your attention on new release shelves lately, ranked in the order we’d add them to our holiday wish list.
Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Fourth Kind’ is Disturbing For the Wrong Reasons
CHICAGO – Here’s the most desperate film in many a moon. It tries harder than any recent horror picture to prove that its artificial horrors are real. What it lacks is the subtlety and suspense necessary to actually scare viewers. “Blair Witch Project” did it with ominous sounds in the dark. “Paranormal Activity” did it with time code. Both films proved that in the case of psychological horror, less is always more.
“The Fourth Kind” collapses under the weight of its excesses. It begins with its star Milla Jovovich introducing herself as “actress Milla Jovovich” who will be portraying the real-life “Dr. Abigail Tyler” in the film. She explains that the film will utilize actual archival footage and audio from Dr. Tyler’s sessions with patients, before ending with the warning, “Some of what you’re about to see is extremely disturbing.” It sure is, though not in the way the filmmakers had intended.
Blu-Ray Rating: 1.5/5.0
In every scene, the audience is repeatedly reminded that they’re watching a movie. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi’s interview with the “real” Dr. Abigail Tyler is glimpsed at throughout the picture, as “real” footage is juxtaposed with dramatizations via split screen. This proves to be quite irritating, particularly when the actors start screaming in unison with the people they’re portraying. The story is pure sci-fi cheese: Dr. Tyler’s patients are all having the same traumatic nightmares, which are naturally linked to alien abductions. One patient, Tommy Fisher (Corey Johnson), becomes so deranged that he guns down his entire family before shooting himself in the head. The allegedly real footage of this homicide-suicide, captured by police cameras, plays alongside re-enactments, as the warring footage fights for room on the screen. This is when the film officially falls apart. Does Osunsanmi really think that audiences will believe that footage of actual murders would be used for cheap thrills in a PG-13 mainstream entertainment?
Milla Jovovich announces that she is indeed an actress in Olatunde Osunsanmi’s The Fourth Kind.
Photo credit: Universal Home Entertainment
Any person with even a shred of common sense would be able to label this a fraud long before a Google search relieves all remaining doubt. One of its least believable moments comes when Jovovich identifies herself as an actress (someone show me this woman’s SAG card!). Her acting experience hasn’t extended far beyond the “Resident Evil” series, and she doesn’t have the chops necessary to do this role justice (her primary method of displaying emotion is by exhaling deeply). Her bad performance suffers all the more when it’s literally juxtaposed against footage of the “real” Dr. Tyler, played by an uncredited Charlotte Milchard, who looks like a middle-aged Carrie, and acts Jovovich right off the screen. If this character were real, then Osunsanmi could be charged with exploiting mental illness. But since she’s clearly not, Osunsanmi can simply be charged with wasting our time.
The Fourth Kind was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 16th, 2010.
Photo credit: Universal Home Entertainment
Everything in “The Fourth Kind” is laughably over-the-top. The aliens’ presence is announced by Spielbergian light streaming through a window. When the movie wants the audience to jump, the picture fades to black before cutting to a loud clanging sound (this gets old very quickly). When characters become possessed by aliens, “Exorcist”-style, their mouths stretch to ludicrous lengths, resembling the deformed victims in “The Ring.” Atli Orvarsson’s haunted house music overplays every moment, while Will Patton camps up a storm as a disbelieving sheriff more blatantly villainous than Snidely Whiplash. And Osunsanmi accompanies his “archival audio” with subtitles even when they aren’t necessary (a recorded scream is helpfully translated as, “[screams]”). This film is the epitome of audience-insulting dreck, relying on the presumed stupidity of the masses (it’s as if the filmmakers were from another planet). The only aliens here are the ones behind the camera.
The film is presented in 1080p High Definition (with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio), accompanied by English, French and Spanish audio tracks, and includes a pocket BLU app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and other smartphone devices. The BD-Live-enabled disc also includes a social BLU app and a D-Box Metadata track, though there’s a conspicuous lack of special features. Of course, any director interview or commentary would immediately debunk the film’s shoddy illusions. The sole extra is 23 minutes of relatively dull deleted scenes, though the first one is a whopper: the complete footage of the “real” Tommy’s domestic murder spree. If you listen carefully, the first sounds you’ll hear are two off-camera crew members yelling, “Action!”