Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Nacho Vigalondo made a name for himself back in 2007 when he took on the concept of a time travel, married it to a bargain basement budget - and through the employment of smart scripting and a lot of audacity, created the memorable thriller Timecrimes.

Now he's back with a slightly larger money pot and a considerably more laughs but, in essence, the film relies on the same key factors - a cast of four main characters, minimal locations and a high-concept set up, in this case, an alien invasion, that is really there to provide a driver for the action rather than a plot detail in its own right.

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Julia (Michelle Jenner) and Julio (Julián Villagrán) may well have slept together after a drunken night out. They've certainly woken up in Julia's apartment but neither of them can remember exactly what happened. There's no time to get to the bottom of the matter, though, because they suddenly realise there's a dirty great spaceship hovering over their city and the streets are eerily quiet.

To make matters worse, Julia's long-term boyfriend Carlos (Raúl Cimas) arrives home to protect her from the expected alien hordes and necessity becomes the mother of invention, with a story quickly concoted to suggest that Julio is only there because Julia invited him in after he collapsed on the street. It's outlandish but Carlos is a trusting sort. The only fly in the ointment is their neighbour Ángel (Miguel Noguera) - who holds such a big candle for Julia that he's quite prepared to use it to torch her story and reveal her betrayal.

If Vigalondo's last film was predicated on the idea that a small mistake could lead to a bigger one and so on, here, he turns his attention to the nature of lies. The first fib Julio tells may seem as though it's of the fairly harmless white variety, but it's not long before the lies begin to spiral out of control and into the realms of farce.

Not unlike his last film, the plot is firmly to the fore, which has the unfortunate effect of requiring one or two large leaps on the part of the audience as regards character development. Thankfully, the actors bring their A game and sell the silly set-up, but despite a fairly steady stream of gags, it never quite gathers the head of steam you suspect Vigalondo is aiming for. I saw this with a Spanish audience and, given the laughter levels, I wonder whether some of the finer points of the scripting may have been lost in translation. Alien invasion aficionados would do well to avoid but if you're a fan of the comedy of discomfort with a slacker vibe and a hint of romance, Extraterrestrial certainly has charms.

Reviewed on: 15 Feb 2012
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A love triangle simmers under the threat of an alien invasion.
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Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Writer: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Michelle Jenner, Carlos Areces, Julián Villagrán, Raúl Cimas, Miguel Noguera

Year: 2011

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Spain

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