Director: Amat Escalante
Screenplay: Amat Escalante, Gibran Portela
Starring: Simone Bucio, Ruth Ramos, Eden Villavencio, Jesus Meza
Duration: 100 min
BBFC Certification: 18
Amat Escalante’s follow up to Cannes favourite Heli is an interesting beast – part relationship melodrama and part body horror porn. Owing a debt to films like Possession and Antichrist, it’s an alluring movie that poses many questions about desire and it’s sometime damaging effect on relationships.
The film begins with a shot of an asteroid floating in space, before cutting to an image of a young woman, Veronica (Simone Bucio), in the throes of sexual ecstasy with something we barely glimpse, though it clearly isn’t human. The creature seriously wounds her, and Veronica goes to a hospital in a small town, tended to by nurse Fabián (Eden Villavencio). We are then introduced to Fabián’s sister, Alejandra (Ruth Ramos), a mother of two small boys, and her husband Angel (Jésus Meza), who is having a passionate gay relationship with Fabián. As Veronica and Fabián become closer, she introduces him to the pleasures of her unearthly lover, which lives in a remote shack in the care of an elderly couple. The aftermath of Fabian’s encounter has dramatic consequences for everyone.
Escalante uses the characters’ liaisons with the mysterious creature to question how sex is viewed by one’s choice of sexual partner and the implications of the decision. The creature fulfils the subconscious desires of each character, which leads them to review their mundane existence in everyday life, the actors giving low key performances which suits the film’s gritty, almost documentary style.
The cinematography of frequent Lars Von Trier collaborator, Manuel Alberto Claro, echoes the bleak tone of the script with murky greys in the long sweeping landscape shots and muted browns during interiors. The sound design is aggressive and stifling, shifting from animal howls to eerie hums, leading to further feelings of unease.
Inspired by a newspaper article, The Untamed blends the fantastical with the mundane to pose questions about desire, sexuality and it’s place in modern Mexican society. It’s a weird little film, but it’s my kind of weird.
The Untamed is distributed by Arrow Academy on DVD and Blu-Ray.