Review: In ‘Before We Vanish,’ the Aliens Have a Lot of Questions

When will they ever learn? The aliens, I mean, who can’t seem to resist the impulse to invade Earth and wipe out humanity. “Before We Vanish,” Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s witty science-fiction chin-scratcher — less a horror movie than a series of musings on potentially horrifying ideas — addresses the question literally. It concerns a reconnaissance squad of space travelers sent to do fieldwork in our ways and habits, with particular emphasis on our mental concepts.

There is a long and rich tradition of debate in philosophy and cognitive science about the nature of those entities, which the three main aliens resolve with impressive practical acumen. For them, to acquire a concept is to steal it from the person who explained it, a theft that is consummated by a brisk tap on the forehead. The victim crumples to the ground (there are some variations on this procedure) and then resumes life missing a key piece of mental furniture.

The result is not always terrifying. A manipulative, sexually-harassing boss, robbed of “work,” capers across the desktops of his office, laughing and tossing paper airplanes. A young man who has lived for a long time as an anxious shut-in loses “home” and finds himself free to explore the world and embrace political causes. It almost seems as if the aliens do their unwitting hosts a favor. The catch is that they plan to exterminate us and take over the planet.

Prestamo 1000 euros