It’s annoying when distribution and production companies waste their new movie’s best scenes in the trailer. This tactic suggests that the people who were invested in the film knew that the volume of viable content was scant, and then decided to lure viewers into the theater using deceptive marketing.

“The Fourth Kind”

At Quality 16 and Showcase
Universal

It’s even more appalling, however, is when filmmakers use half-assed viral marketing campaigns and bold-faced lies for no other practical purpose other than to increase revenue. Rarely has a film been as misleadingly self-promoting as “The Fourth Kind,” a new film from director Olatunde Osunsanmi.

For years, the small town of Nome, Alaska has been terrorized by an unseen force that has resulted in a number of inexplicable disappearances. During an exhaustive study on the sleep disorders that have plagued many of Nome’s residents, Dr. Abigail Tyler (Milla Jovovich, “Resident Evil”) discovers that these phenomena may be the result of alien abductions, as is evidenced by her patient’s subconscious visions and other more substantial evidence. Or so Universal Pictures would have you believe.

Though it’s unpleasant to be the bearer of bad news, it seems that all of the events described in the plot — the supposedly real “archival” footage, eyewitness reports, statistics, websites and, yes, even Dr. Tyler’s identity — are entirely falsified.

These fallacies are not annoying in and of themselves. After all, the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece “Fargo” has a rather boldly printed narrative that suggests the film’s possible nonfiction roots, but the characters’ absurd mannerisms suggest otherwise. Also, the audacity of “The Fourth Kind” bears no resemblance to “Fargo,” either in quality, form or content.

There’s also an important distinction that must be made here: “Fargo” uses hype to reinforce the spectator’s enjoyment of a movie that’s a triumph of cinematography and narration. “The Fourth Kind” uses manipulative advertising in an attempt to bolster support for a film that is quite simply trash.

“The Fourth Kind” ‘s mish-mash of filmmaker’s clichés will have you laughing when you least expect to. The only reasoning behind the forgiving two-star rating is the effectiveness of a few scenes — particularly those juxtaposing “archival” footage with dramatized footage — in creating sincere tension.

Still, in the case of “The Fourth Kind,” the insistence of the fact that the film is fact-based represents nothing but the bastardization of an excellent premise. Had this idea been conceived of by a different screenplay writer and executed by a different director, you’d be reading an entirely different review. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

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