At a crater in the lush, mossy-green Mexican countryside in Amat Escalante's fourth feature, The Untamed, every native species of animal gathers to fuck, like a pornographic Noah’s Arc. This scene of otherworldly magical realism is not what audiences have come to expect from the director, whose most well-known film, Heli, revels in relentless and casual violence centered on Mexican drug traffickers. 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 Andrzej Zulawski's Possession.
Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) sleepwalks through her life, enduring dutiful married sex with her brutish husband, Angel (Jesus Meza), and making candy in her controlling mother-in-law’s factory like she’s Lucy and Ethel on Ambien. Meanwhile, in the side room of a rustic cabin -- inhabited by an elderly married couple -- young Veronica (Simone Bucio) readily submits herself to the creature. She’s in ecstasy, nearly catatonic, when the nameless woman of the couple knocks on the door and tells Veronica to wrap up her session with the sex monster before she gets hurt. These disparate scenes are at once jarring but compelling; I was unsure where this narrative was headed, but I was determined stay with it. Then the director subverts expectations, and the drama of human connection becomes just as absorbing as the alien element.