Sitges 2011: EXTRATERRESTRIAL Review

Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo has a history of producing very interesting work using a minimal budget. He proved it with his short movies and confirmed it with his first feature film Timecrimes back in 2007. Now he's back with Extraterrestial, a new example of his personal approach to the science fiction genre.

Julio wakes one day in a strange bed and with a massive hangover. He soon finds he's in Julia's apartment, a girl he hook up with the night before. But something's not quite right, there's nobody on the street and the phone lines and television are out of order. They suddenly discover a huge flying object standing still on the sky, and they realize that they've been sleeping it off during an alien invasion. And while Julio and Julia are still trying to figure out the unexpected situation, they receive the visit of Angel, Julia's weirdo neighbour who's obsessed with her. And just in case the situation wasn't bizarre enough, Julia's boyfriend returns to the apartment.

With such a setup, Vigalondo manages to build a very funny comedy, once again proving that with an intelligent script and very few elements the outcome can be outstanding. The alien invasion is used as a background to kick off the relationships among the characters, and it's never fully developed just as the classical zombie films used the infection. The action is pretty much limited to the apartment and the main characters and Vigalondo manages to keep things going smoothly. The success of the film is also thanks to the wonderful cast, comprised by some of the most interesting Spanish comedians of the moment, such as Raúl Cimas and Carlos Areces, that build characters that will appeal not only to Spanish audiences but worldwide.

Extraterrestrial is not ultimately about alien invasions, but ordinary human people with very human flaws. Vigalondo confirms his status as a director with a very personal way of telling stories, proving that it's not about the size of the budget but the size of the creator's genius.

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