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Two Horror Films from Maple Pictures

The Fourth Kind (November 3/09)

Saddled with a gimmick that would give William Castle pause, The Fourth Kind effectively squanders the promising nature of its setup over the course of its hopelessly uneven 98 minute running time - as filmmaker Olatunde Osunsanmi's decision to place a pervasive emphasis on faux documentary footage robs the proceedings of its momentum on an all-too-frequent basis. The movie, which opens with an unintentionally hilarious warning from Milla Jovovich that what we're about to see is "extremely disturbing," follows Alaska-based psychiatrist Abigail Tyler (Jovovich) as she becomes increasingly convinced that several of her patients have been unknowingly abducted by aliens, with her ongoing attempts at proving the existence of said extra-terrestrials inevitably raising the ire of a skeptical local cop (Will Patton). There's little doubt that the relentless inclusion of clips featuring the "real" Abigail Tyler and her various patients stands as The Fourth Kind's most overt failing, with the less-than-graceful manner with which Osunsanmi shoehorns such moments into the storyline effectively holding the viewer at arm's length virtually from start to finish (ie were the split screens really necessary?). It's consequently not surprising to note that the movie suffers from a serious lack of narrative thrust that only grows more problematic as it unfolds, with the ensuing lack of tension essentially draining the suspense out of several key interludes (ie a distraught husband and father holds his family hostage at gunpoint). And while there are a few genuinely creepy sequences and images sprinkled throughout the proceedings (ie Tyler listens to a recording of her own abduction), The Fourth Kind clearly would've benefited from a more conventional approach and a greater emphasis on the characters themselves (Patton's police officer is especially underused) - with the almost ridiculously anti-climactic finale ensuring that the whole thing ends on as abrupt a note as one could possibly envision (ie those viewers expecting a Fire in the Sky-esque third act are going to be sorely disappointed).

out of

My Bloody Valentine (November 4/09)

Based on the 1981 horror flick of the same name, My Bloody Valentine follows crazed miner Harry Warden (Richard John Walters) as he embarks on a killing spree that leaves 22 coworkers and townspeople dead - with the movie subsequently picking up a decade later and revolving around the chaos that ensues after Harry apparently reappears to finish what he started. It's worth noting that My Bloody Valentine actually gets off to a relatively promising start, as director Patrick Lussier opens the proceedings with an impressively brutal interlude that effectively evokes the slasher flicks of the 1980s. And while the kill sequences that have been peppered throughout the remainder of the film's running time are similarly quite entertaining, there's little doubt that the progressively hackneyed storyline ensures that the lulls between such moments become more and more difficult to stomach - with the super low-rent visuals and almost comical reliance on computer-generated effects only exacerbating the hopelessly uneven atmosphere. This is in spite of the charismatic work from leads Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, and Kerr Smith, though costar Betsy Rue certainly deserves some credit for her brave turn as a perpetually naked victim of the masked miner. The end result is a consistently underwhelming horror endeavor that seems to exist for no reason other than to serve the current 3D fad, as the film's myriad of problems are only highlighted when viewed in the superior 2D format.

out of

© David Nusair