After his 2007 Sci-Fi thriller Timecrimes got the attention of audiences everywhere Spanish writer and director Nacho Vigalondo has directed TV episodes, a bunch of shorts and the A Is for Apocalypse segment of The ABCs of Death.
Come FrightFest 2014 and Vigalondo brought two new drastically different feature films, Extraterrestrial and Open Windows, plus he had crafted the most shocking, gory and spectacular section of V/H/S: Viral titled Parallel Monsters.
What these three very imaginative pieces proved is that Vigalondo is both versatile and highly creative able to move between the found footage Sci-Fi horror of his V/H/S: Viral short to the insane high concept action slasher Open Windows staring Elijah Wood to the quirky Spanish alien invasion romantic comedy that is Extraterrestrial easily bringing new ideas to all genres he experiments in along the way.
Extraterrestrial opens as Julio (Julian Villagran) awakes in the bed of the beautiful Julia (Michelle Jenner) who seems desperate to get him up and out of her flat after their night together which neither of them can remember.
With the phones, TV and internet all down the awkward couple glance out onto the empty city streets of Madrid and suddenly realise that there is a gigantic alien space ship hanging in the sky above them.
Brought together by this extraterrestrial arrival the pair set up a camera to watch the immense craft in case something comes out staying inside and gradually bonding over bouts of boredom and panic at the impending invasion.
However just as it seems Julio may be getting closer to the girl of his dreams reality arrives in the form of nosy neighbor Ángel (Carlos Areces) who is obsessed with Julia and wants her for himself.
Fibbing to prevent the jealous Ángel discovering what happened the night before things get all the more complicated when Julia’s boyfriend arrives home which is even more of a surprise to Julio than the space men.
As lies mount up on top of tall stories on top of half-truths the situation spins more out of control as the couple keep covering till fact becomes a distant memory at which point things take a turn for the crazy when they start to accuse each other of being aliens.
Keeping the effects to an affective minimum much like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial takes a predictable romantic comedy set up of boy meets girl and spins it sideways with the original idea of adding in aliens arrival on Earth.
This surreal situation brilliantly enforces the idea that the characters must stay inside which pressure cooks the fragile relationships and increases the sexual tension and possibility for confrontation all of which explodes midway through as the foursome fly apart and things get much more weird and wonderful as one character turns into an insane survivalist and another starts firing slogan scrawled tennis balls at Julia’s apartment.
Although feeling a little too stark and stagy at times Extraterrestrial is all about the script and characters and the four leads who pretty much make up the entire cast of the films do a great job all giving engaging and interesting performances culminating in a touching and funny finale to a crazy love story.
Entertaining and inventive Extraterrestrial is a great take on a traditional Rom-Com adding in Science Fiction and Thriller elements and although not the best of Vigalondo’s films at FrightFest it more than shows his talent and ability as a creative force to watch out for in the coming years.
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