The Untamed Screen 10 articles

The Untamed


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  • While shot through with pointed jabs at chauvinism and mainstream homophobia in Mexican society, “The Untamed” never quite exceeds the sum of its intriguingly opposed parts... Escalante is curiously coy around the tangiest possibilities of his science-fiction premise. Bar a few arresting shots of women’s limbs entwined with squid-like feelers, “The Untamed” is, counter to its title, hardly explicit or subversive in challenging the laws and limits of human desire.

  • Repressed sexual impulses find a novel form of expression in Amat Escalante’s The Untamed, a genre film for people who find genre films distasteful. As in his Cannes-winning Heli (2013), Escalante’s knack for high-concept premises—there, using the family unit as a means to explore the insidiousness of violence—is undone by his obvious, brute-force execution and his indelicacy with characters.

  • Melding the broadest of science fiction premises with the most contained of family dramas, and spicing it all up with a little hentai tentacle porn for good measure, it shows a director best known for a kind of seamy realist social critique take a flyer into less well-charted territory (for him) of metaphor and allegory and excoriatingly deadpan irony.

  • It puts a distinctive mix of nuanced social observation and seemingly generic fantasy and science-fiction elements to profoundly disquieting ends within its study of the psychic and social anxieties that sexual identity and desire are boundlessly capable of provoking.

  • Kicking off with a literal climax featuring tentacle penetration puts Escalante in a difficult position to frame The Untamed as a work of suspense. In the scenes that follow, though, he makes it clear that this is no creature feature. Instead, it’s a multi-faceted drama, punctuated by cursory scenes of tentacled ecstasy. In shedding this initial tension, Escalante is able to easily weave scenes of entrancing eroticism into a work built on stark, political images in the social realist tradition.

  • What’s fascinating is the way that this ostensible excursion into genre—it must be science fiction, it starts with the image of an asteroid floating in space—remains for the most part determinedly earthbound, with one leg in the realm of the everyday, the other in that of family-based melodrama.

  • I doubt that you’ll see a stranger film than this at the LFF and you certainly won’t have seen anything quite like it before.

  • Although the combination of relationship melodrama and surrealist sci-fi/horror may sound improbable, the control exhibited in Escalante’s direction and the suggestive resonances of his script make this one of the year’s most offbeat and fascinating films.

  • Each brief glimpse of the creature's fleshy, slithering mass imbues the character drama with an aching sexual desire and, as the violent potential of the entity becomes clear, a mounting sense of dread.

  • In The Untamed, which tells the tale of a group of troubled people who find solace by engaging in all-consuming intercourse with an irresistible, many-tentacled sex alien — who traveled to Earth on the meteor that made the crater — a fantastical premise collides with Escalante’s solemn realism, making for a quiet, unforgettable mash-up, inspired by director Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession.

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