By Todd Gilchrist (reprint from 10/28/09 -- L.A. Screamfest)
I'm not sure exactly what quality it is that real people possess and actors lack, but any time a film pretends to document real behavior, either literally or as a reenactment, something is almost always missing. Sometimes the problem is a deliberate decision to enhance events with artificial emphasis or drama, and sometimes it's simply too great a sense of self-awareness in the actor, who knows he or she is performing. But while there are a precious few movies that nail that authenticity, notably the recent underdog-blockbuster Paranormal Activity, such is certainly the case in The Fourth Kind, a film that purports to build an argument for alien abductions using "actual" footage from case studies.
While much of the movie's so-called source material carries the convincing roughness and deficiencies of homemade, handheld recording, too much of it seems far too calculated, both in its technical proficiency and the performances contributed by its "real" people. Further, its accompanying reenactments by recognizable actors undermine the possibility that audiences can take its case seriously, all of which adds up to thriller that unravels easily even if it nevertheless occasionally qualifies as a scary good time.