The 13th Floor

The Most Shocking Film of 2017?: THE UNTAMED

For the past several years, we have seen some amazing controversial and transgressive films come from Mexico. 2013 brought HERE COMES THE DEVIL, 2016 had the wild and pornographic WE ARE THE FLESH, and now 2017 has THE UNTAMED, which may possibly be one of the most shocking and bizarre films of the year.

The movie opens on a rural farmhouse. The audience has no idea what has transpired inside, just that a young girl has a bad wound on her side and drives away on a motorcycle. The film then shifts to a family- mom, dad, and two kids. We are also introduced to the uncle, a gay man working as a hospital nurse. Over time, it becomes clear that everyone is unhappy and very sexually frustrated. And then, one-by-one, they find their way to the isolated cabin and discover what’s inside.

I really don’t want to say much more than this because, since this is one of the most graphic and shocking films of 2017, I want to preserve the shocks. But I’ll just casually drop the phrase “a lot of tentacle porn” and back away.

The director, Amat Escalante, is not an amateur at creating jaw-dropping content. His 2013 film HELI focused on a 12-year-old girl who became involved with a brutal drug cartel and, though not horror, HELI left me equally shaken and uncomfortable.

THE UNTAMED floats effortlessly between multiple genres. It feels like a realism-infused domestic drama, but then shifts to science fiction mixed with horror and erotica, eventually balancing all of them together. It also stokes the fires of several important social issues including the concept of masculinity, homophobia, the role of women, domestic violence, and the expression of one’s own sexual desires.

THE UNTAMED feels almost like a love letter to Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 film POSSESSION, a relatively unknown horror film as far as mass market audiences go, but it does boast a strong and passionate cult audience. Like POSSESSION, THE UNTAMED uses sex and gender power struggles as vehicles to push the plot forward to an eventually shocking reveal. Both THE UNTAMED and POSSESSION ride a very fine line between “high art cinema” and “trashy sexploitation”, somehow ultimately being able to exist as both simultaneously.

This movie does function as a slow burn art film for the bulk of its run time, but the gradual build and dramatic tension only help to increase the shock, especially for one particular scene which is already gaining a copious amount of notoriety.

The film is about to begin limited theatrical runs in both Los Angeles (playing at the Laemmle starting on the 28th) and New York City (playing at the IFC Center starting on the 21st). Try to catch this one on the big screen if you can, and keep checking for more news on when THE UNTAMED may be venturing to VOD and Blu-ray.


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