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In the lexicon of UFO buffs, a close encounter of the first kind is a sighting. A close encounter of the second kind is evidence (crop circles, etc.). The third kind involves contact. The fourth kind is abduction.

The new horror thriller “The Fourth Kind” is purportedly based on a true story that has been suppressed by authorities. The filmmakers also claim that the video footage that they’ve used in this movie is authentic.

Admittedly, the hype is all part of the fun. If you want to believe it, read no further.

The folks behind “The Fourth Kind” try to pull a “Blair Witch” trick by getting us to believe that the grainy archival video that accompanies the drama is the real deal. They’ve even gone to great lengths to put info out there on the internet to back their claims, reportedly setting up phony psychiatric websites with details on Dr. Abigail Tyler, the film’s main character.

But, of course, it’s only a movie…and a mediocre one at that.

Milla Jovovich (“A Perfect Getaway”) opens the movie by facing the camera and addresses the audience directly. She admits that she is an actress, but claims to be portraying a real person. The dramatizations, she insists, are based on actual events and that they’ll be accompanied by actual video that, she warns, is disturbing.

The film’s writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi (“The Cavern”) also appears as himself, engaged in an ongoing TV interview with the “real” Dr. Tyler.

As played by Jovovich, Dr. Tyler is a Nome, Alaska psychiatrist who is having a rough time of it. Her husband, it seems, was stabbed to death by aliens. (The police are clueless.) Her daughter has a case of emotional blindness as a result of the trauma. Her son is acting out.

In addition, several of Dr. Tyler’s clients have been disturbed by ongoing dream of a white owl at their window. When she hypnotizes them, they see disturbing images of alien encounters. Indeed, the hypnotic state seems to draw the otherworldly visitors. Dr. Tyler captures the disturbing images on video (conveniently distorted by their electric presence).

Things get really hairy for the good doctor when one of her patients murders his family and then commits suicide. (Yes, they’ve got that on video, too.)

Admittedly, director Osunsanmi delivers some effective shocks, but his deceptive little enterprise never quite lives up to the “disturbing” promises that Jovovich makes in the opening sequence. (R) Rating: **1/2
* Avoid at all costs
** Only if you're bored
*** Good movie
**** Well worth your time
***** Be sure to see it

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