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How Real Is “The Fourth Kind”?
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Published: 5:18 AM 10/21/2009

by Claudine Zap

"The Fourth Kind" is one of those horror mystery flicks that bills itself as a "fact-based thriller." Set in Nome, Alaska, the movie seeks to explain the supposed mystery of an unusually high missing-persons rate in that area.

The film says it re-enacts, documentary-style, actual footage of alien abductees, but the real mystery may be: How real is the movie? The Buzz Log investigates.

First of all, what exactly is the fourth kind?

According to the movie, a scale developed back in 1972 was designed to measure alien encounters. (Remember "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"? That's the scale.) UFO sighting is the first kind. Evidence is the second kind. Contact with extra terrestrials is the third. And the fourth kind? You guessed it: abduction.

The set up

The teaser trailer, which opens with its star, Milla Jovovich, claiming that everything you're about to see is true, has the Web buzzing. Searches on "the fourth kind" have surged 200% in the last seven days.

Thrill seekers have also been looking up "the fourth kind movie" and "the fourth kind trailer." The official site encourages believers to post their abduction experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and lists Web resources for further reading on the topic of UFOs. Insert "X-Files" soundtrack here.

How real is it?

Depends on your definition of the word "real." On the scale of documentaries, from Ken Burns yawn-inducing historical to fake-umentary "Blair Witch Project," guess which one this is. The story is set around psychiatrist Abagail Tyler, a supposedly real person who interviewed sleep-deprived patients claiming they were abducted by aliens.

The movie promises that the scenes were all recreated from "archival footage." Except. Actual Nome residents say they've never heard of any alien abductions. And the Anchorage Daily News does a pretty good job debunking the story (including the observation that no psychiatrist exists by that name.)

The accounts of alien abductions are said to explain an unusually high death and disappearance rate. The FBI blamed alcoholism. Locals said it was a serial killer. Nobody seems to blame aliens.

But hey, who really cares if the back story doesn't add up if it's a good scare? Fear junkies screamed their way through "Paranormal Activity," helping the DIY horror flick mint $30 million in just three weeks.

Makers of "The Fourth Kind" must be hoping to capture some of that scare appeal. Clearly, they are the believers.

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