Extraterrestrial (Extraterrestre)
Made in: Spain
Language: Spanish
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Michelle Jenner, Julián Villagrán, Carlos Areces, Raúl Cimas
Year: 2012

Synopsis: Julio (Julián Villagrán) wakes up one morning in a gorgeous apartment. The apartment belongs to Julia (Michelle Jenner), a young woman with whom he apparently had a one-night stand.

The previous night's events are a blur to both of them, and neither one remembers what happened. To avoid further awkwardness, Julia tries to get Julio to leave. But the situation changes when they notice that the entire neighborhood has been deserted...and that an enormous alien spacecraft is hovering above the city.

Complicating matters is Julia's weird neighbor, Ángel (Carlos Areces). Geeky and socially awkward, Ángel is a borderline stalker with a not-so-secret crush on Julia. And thrown into the mix is Carlos (Raúl Cimas), Julia's boyfriend.

With his feelings for Julia growing, Julio uses the bizarre situation of visiting aliens to manipulate the other two men. Playing upon their weaknesses, fears, and colorful imaginations in an underhanded scheme to get the girl, Julio puts into action a bizarre series of events that gets more and more convoluted and dangerous.

The Good: Acting is decent and the underlying premise is interesting. Director Nacho Vigalondo, as he did in Timecrimes , (his previous film), creates a lot of unpredictable scenarios for his characters. Just as you think Extraterrestrial is about to go one way, it takes an unexpected turn.

The Bad: None of the characters are all that appealing, and I found myself not caring about what happens to them. I sensed that Vigalondo was trying to create a quirky story with off-beat humor, but the efforts just fell flat.

Although the jokes and sight gags were set up in creative ways (i.e. the crazy neighbor sets up an elaborate scheme to expose Julia's alleged infidelity, an amateur broadcaster uses colorful language while unaware that he's on the air), there was an aura of pretentiousness about them. It seemed to me that Vigalondo was too self-conscious while constructing the jokes, and put the cleverness factor above advancing the story.

Who would like this film: Extraterrestrial is more of an art film. The sci-fi element is not central to the story at all, so don't expect the discovery of much anticipated alien creatures at the end, because there aren't any.

For a low budget production, Nacho Vigalondo does a superb job utilizing limited locations and making the situation look believable. The jokes and storytelling approach are bold, but fails to connect.

Unfortunately, the attempts at being witty are the cinematic equivalent of enduring the antics of the self-declared cl(ass) clown you knew back in high school. You know, the guy who thinks he's witty and funny but really isn't...and who consistently fails to understand that there's a direct correlation between shooting his mouth off and receiving swirlies after gym class.

(2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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