Nacho Vigalondo

7.0 Colossal (2016)
7.4 Timecrimes (2007)
5.5 Extraterrestrial (2011)
5.0 Open Windows (2014)
5.0 Pooka! (2018)

Nacho Vigalondo (Spain, 1977) debuted with an eight-minute short,

7:35 in the Morning (2003).

Los Cronocrimenes/ Timecrimes (2007) is a suspenseful hybrid of sci-fi movie and horror movie, a time puzzle in which will happen has already happened and viceversa. Vigalondo plays with cinema's classics while subverting them. The protagonist is a regular everyman, whose passtime is to scan the world for interesting things, like the protagonist of Hitchcock's Rear Window, an anti-hero who becomes the victim of a nefarious plot and has to turn into a clever hero, something reminiscent of Hitchcock's North by Northwest There is also a bit of Memento in the way Vigalondo plays with memory. The protagonist undergoes a metamorphosis that turns him into a terrifying monster, reminiscent of the monsters of vintage horror movies. The novelty here is that the victim is the deus-ex-machina, and in fact he himself will never know how and why the chain of events unfolded (although we suspect his voyeurism has something to do with it). And we don't even know whether he will succeed in getting rid of the ghosts that haunt him because the ghost are (literally) reflections of himself, and cannot be easily destroyed.

Hector and his wife Clara are happily staying at their quiet and isolated countryside villa. One day Hector receives a mysterious phone call: the caller doesn't say anything and just hangs up. Hector is puzzled because nobody knows that number. Hector calls back and is about to leave a message on the answering machine of the caller when his wife walks in. Interrupted, he doesn't realize that he didn't hang up so for a while their conversation gets recorded on the caller's answering machine. Hector's passtime is to look at the forest surrounding the house with binoculars. In the evening he sees a woman removing her shirt and revealing her breast. He doesn't tell his wife. His wife drives away for some shopping and he walks to the forest. There is an abandoned bicycle and signs of a fight. He finds the woman lying still on the ground, completely naked, with her eyes closed. It looks like she is sleeping but she doesn't give any sign of life. He approaches her slowly and suddenly someone stabs in the arm with scissors. Hector cannot see the face of the man, only that his head is bandaged. Panicking, he jumps a fence and looks for help in a nearby building. Nobody opens the door, so Hector breaks a window and enters. The radio is on, playing loud music, but there's nobody. Hector explores the vast building that looks like a medical laboratory and finds something to disinfect and bandage his arm. He finds a walkie-talkie on a table and calls for help. Someone replies and tells him to stay where he is. Then the man tells him that he can see in his security cameras that the bandaged man is walking towards the building. It is getting dark. The man advises him to get out of the building quickly and join him in another building following a lit path. While Hector is walking along the path, the man keeps communicating with him on the walkie talkie, telling him that the bandaged man is on the chase. Hector reaches the other building and the man welcomes him inside, and then locks the door telling Hector that they are safe inside. Hector finds himself in another laboratory where this geeky scientist is carrying out some experiment. Hector can hear that a vehicle is approaching at high speed. Just when the bandaged man shows up at a window, the scientist convinces Hector to enter a machine full of a white liquid, promising to join him, but instead locks Hector alone into the machine. When the scientist reopens the machine, Hector realizes that it is day again: it was dark when he entered the machine. The scientist stares at him as if staring at a stranger. Hector walks outside. The scientist talks to him as if he never met him before and asks him if he, Hector, has been there before. Hector points the binocularas towards his house and sees that his wife is back and that... he, Hector, is in the house. The scientist explains that Hector has traveled back in time to before his wife left to go shopping, about one hour. The scientist is puzzled how Hector got into the machine: the scientist doesn't know anything of their encounter because this is happening before their encounter. Hector explains what happened between them. The scientist explains that the machine is a time machine. Now there are two Hectors, the one inside the house and the one in the scientist's laboratory. The scientist decides that the only way to re-synchronize the two is to have Hector patiently wait for the other Hector to do exactly what Hector already did so that the two Hectors will be again in the same place at the same time. Hector picks up the phone and calls himself: that's the mysterious call that he received before. When he received that call, Hector was puzzled that nobody knew his number: he does. Now he realizes that the caller was... himself. He even hears himself calling back (he did) and the conversation with his wife that was recorded on the answering machine. Hector ignores the scientist's advice, steals his car and attempts to drive home. Along the road he sees a woman on a bicycle, which reminds him of the naked woman in the forest. Hector stops the car in the middle of the road and another car, a red van, hits his car and sending it against a tree, wounding him on the head. Hector removes the bandage from his arm and wraps it around his head: he is the bandaged man! Having heard the noise of the crash, the girl bikes back and offers help. Hector has realized that he is the bandaged man and that she is the naked girl. He comes up with a plan: he grabs scissors, asks her to follow him into the forest and, when she tries to run away, chases her. Hector the bandaged man looks into the binoculars and sees himself, Hector at the villa an hour earlier, staring with binoculars in the forest. The bandaged Hector finds the girl and forces her to remove her shirt, while promising not to hurt her. The bandaged Hector keeps checking what the other Hector at the villa is doing to make sure that he is synchronized with what happened one hour earlier. The girl tries again to run away, he chases her, she falls and hits her head, and he drags her, unconscious, to the place where she was lying naked an hour earlier, just in time for the other Hector at the villa to see her in his binoculars. Then the bandaged Hector strips the girl naked. The bandaged Hector hides in the bushes and waits for the other Hector to arrive, then attacks him from behind, so the whole scene is repeated. Now the other Hector is running towards the laboratory. It is now dark. The bandaged Hector hears a woman screaming, realizes that the naked girl has disappeared, and returns to his home. The bandaged Hector can hear that somebody is home, but that somebody is scared of him and tries to hide. He chases her around the house. She is scared and climbs to the roof. He grabs her foot and she falls: he killed Clara. The bandaged Hector is desperate. He still has the walkie-talkie and tries to call the scientist, and so he hears the other Hector who at that very moment is talking to the scientist (one hour earlier) who is telling him to follow the lit path. The bandaged Hector tells the scientist to invite the other Hector into the laboratory (the scientist doesn't know what happened one hour earlier, but the bandaged Hector does). The bandaged Hector gets back into the car and starts driving towards the laboratory, where the other Hector is running to, following the scientist's instructions, who is following the bandaged Hector's instructions. Hector is the bandaged man who was chasing Hector one hour earlier. The bandaged Hector shows himself at the window which is the signal for the scientist to lure the other Hector into the machine. Now the bandaged Hector has reached continuity of time but at the price of killing his wife. Now he wants to change the course of time. The scientist doesn't want to cooperate and the bandaged Hector has to use violence. But then the bandaged Hector realizes that the scientist had already sabotaged the machine even before Hector told him of his desire to go back in time again: how did the scientist knew that Hector was going to ask him that favor? Hector has to use violence again to extort the truth: the scientist confesses that there is another Hector, a previous Hector, a third Hector, who was there before the bandaged Hector, and forced the scientist to put Hector into the machine. This third Hector, who appeared just seconds before Hector, called the scientist on the walkie-talkie to warm him that Hector would come back and ask to be sent back in time again, and, suicidal, begged the scientist to stop Hector at all costs from doing it. Hector thinks it through and decides to go back in time but without the walkie-talkie, so that the circle will be broken. It starts raining. They hear the siren of a police car, presumably called because of the death of Hector's wife. Hector enters the time machine again and asks to be sent back just a few seconds earlier. The bandaged Hector (who has now removed his bandage) reemerges fully aware that there are now three Hectors and asks for the scientist's cooperation to get rid of the other two. The wounded Hector hides and the unscarred Hector emerges from the machine. The wounded Hector instructs the scientist to behave like he behaved when Hector first reemerged from the machine (pretending not to know what had happened). When Hector starts driving towards his house, the wounded Hector drives after him with another vehicle, a red van, and hits his car (that's the car that caused the accident and then fled). We know what happens to the Hector in the car, but now we see what happened to the van that hit him. The red van too crashes and overturns, and the wounded Hector (now double wounded) is unconscious long enough to be unable to stop Hector (the now bandaged Hector) from repeating what happened before. The double wounded Hector finds a walkie-talkie in the van and calls the scientist to inform him that he failed (when he threw away his walkie-talkie, he didn't know that there was another one in the van) and repeats the instruction to stop Hector from traveling to the past a second time. The double wounded is barely able to walk but happens to run into the girl, who, startled, screams. That's the scream that we heard. She can't recognize him because he isn't wearing the bandage anymore. She runs to look for help. She comes back to tell him that she found a house. She helps him get to the house, which is Hector's own house. He has misgivings about going inside but doesn't tell her that it is his own house. The double wounded Hector sits inside the house while the girl explores it. His wife Clara is actually home and finds him. She is shocked that he is bleeding and disfigured but mostly she is terrified that she saw an intruder outside. The double wounded Hector knows that it is the previous Hector. The double wounded Hector knows that the previous Hector is going to cause the death of his wife. He asks his wife to hide. Then he looks for the girl. The double wounded Hector deliberately sends the girl to be killed by the previous Hector, even giving her his wife's jacket so that the previous Hector will think he killed his wife. Then the double wounded Hector brings his wife outside to enjoy the night. They hear the scream of the girl who dies falling from the roof. It starts raining. The previous Hector drives away, determined to go back in time... which will cause him to become the double wounded Hector.
Each of the Hectors travels back in time, each one longer than the previous one ("previous" as presented chronologically in the film, actually "following"). Clara's and the unnamed girl's stories are straightforward. Clara goes out, comes back, finds an intruder in the house, finds her husband bleeding and rather cryptic, and hears the intruder cause somebody's fall. The girl happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time: she is biking when the car accident happens, stops to help, gets basically kidnapped by a psycho, escapes, runs into an injured man, helps him out to a house, and dies chased by the psycho. The scientist's chronology is more difficult to decipher. In reality the first Hector who shows up in his lab is the third one to appear in the film, and we actually never learn why he went back in time in the first place. This Hector (soon to be double wounded) has come out of the machine and tells the scientist that a clone is about to come out of the machine. The scientist is mesmerized by what is going on, but gloats over his machine's success. He has to make sense of three calls he received on the walkie-talkie: one from a double wounded Hector who calls himself Hector 3 and tells him that he screwed up; one from Hector when he is chased by the bandaged psycho; and one from the Hector whom he calls Hector 2 who has just realized that he is the bandaged psycho. Hector 3 tells the scientist to send Hector 1 back in time so that Hector 1 becomes Hector 2 whom Hector 3 fools into killing the girl instead of his wife as it has happened in the previous cycle. So Hector 3 does succeed in altering the course of events. And, as the film ends, there are two surviving Hectors, one who thinks he has killed his own wife and is rushing back to the lab to alter the course of time and one who enjoys the night before the storm with his wife.

Extraterrestre/ Extraterrestrial (2011)

Open Windows (2014)

Colossal (2016)

Pooka! (2018) is an episode in a horror anthology.

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