Vigalondo’s last film, Timecrimes, was one of the very best time travel films ever made. It was weird, and clever, and suspenseful, and it featured some extremely intricate time travel mechanics. Naturally, I was very much looking forward to his new film, Extraterrestrial, which promised to bring Vigalondo’s wild vision to the topic of aliens. What I got was completely unexpected, but much more than I ever could have hoped.
As it turns out, Extraterrestrial is not a science fiction film, it’s a comedy! Well, there is a bit of sci-fi. As the story begins, a guy awkwardly wakes up in a bed inside a girl’s apartment. They are quite awkward around each other and things already start to get funny, but before anything else can happen they realize that the city has been almost entirely cleared of its population and hanging in the sky is a giant UFO. And that’s basically the extent of the actual sci-fi in the film. The rest of it is filled with personal relationships, awkwardness, lies and tennis balls.
Extraterrestrial is basically set out to prove that even in the face of amazing events, like contact with aliens, people will still find a way to be concerned mostly with their own petty problems. In this case, the problems are romantic. The girl’s actual boyfriend shows up after a while, as does her stalker neighbour. All three guys pine for her, and they all end up trying to mess with each other, often by lying about encounters with the aliens that we never actually see. It’s all just comedy of errors.
But that comedy is wonderful. Vigalondo has a wonderful wit, and he fills the film with that witty awkwardness. I laughed all the way through the film, and even the more poignant moments manage to be effective without ever losing that light comedic touch. Every little twist in the plot just adds layers to the comedy, and the film actually grows funnier as it goes along.
Going into Extraterrestrial, I expected some complex, high-minded, clever science-fiction. Instead, I was greeted with the best comedy of the year. It’s got a wonderful premise, blisteringly funny writing, great acting to carry it, and the vision of Nacho Vigalondo to bring it all together and make it sing. I loved Extraterrestrial through and through, and I can’t wait to see what else Vigalondo has up his sleeves.