Ruth Ramos, Jesus Meza
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…a future cult film.
This Mexican co-pro from director Amat Escalante could be described as a drama horror sci-fi thriller. That crazy mixture gives you a pretty good idea of how ambitious the young director has been. Some will see it as a baffling mess; others will see it as a future cult film.
The Untamed belongs to that small genre of low budget high concept films where the audience has to do most of the work to get any sense or enjoyment out it. The films of American indie Shane Carruth (Upstream Color, Primer) might be a reference point. In this one we start with an elderly couple –who might or might not be scientists – feeding a giant creature (did we mention this is also a creature-feature?) in a barn. We then get to know the other characters. Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) is a shy young mother in a relationship with Angel (Jesus Meza) which is slowly going sour. Angel is confused about his sexual orientation and has yearnings for Fabian, the brother of Alejandra’s friend Veronica (Simone Bucio). Things become more complicated when the two men fight, and Angel is detained by the police.
Meanwhile, the two women bond further and Veronica introduces Alejandra to the old couple and the barn where the creature dwells. Slowly, it is confirmed for us that the creature is a sort of pleasure machine that unleashes destabilising desires in all it services. And quite a creature it is too; a flesh-coloured multi-tentacled anaconda hanging from the rafters. If you want to be penetrated in every orifice this is your go-to option.
The film does swerve about a bit and is in danger of being pretentiously alienating. Sometimes, the dialogue has to lapse into flat explanation of the metaphoric elements. On the other hand, some of the acting is not bad; Meza plays the unsympathetic Angel with brooding intensity and Bucio will definitely go on to bigger things.
The pleasures of the film depend upon a certain amount of surrender as befits the subtext and the powerful, subterranean nature of our desires.