Wow! Where has this film been hiding? Thanks goodness for ACMI that keeps showing these unlooked for and unheralded gems. The advertising for this Mexican horror/drama almost put me off; “Sexual desire, social realism and the uncanny converge in this provocative genre splice.” It could’ve been a Neon Demon – and you can click on the link to see how much I loved that ‘genre-splicing, misogyny-satirising’ movie. Happily The Untamed is nothing like it and I loved its deadpan and excoriating look at heteronormative oppression, wound through with a profoundly meaningful and metaphorical motif of horror.
I’m not going to tell you much about the plot. We first see Verónica (Simone Bucio) in an isolated cabin, immersed in pleasure with a creature unknown. Overseen by an older couple, all seems common place until Verónica realises she must leave as the pleasure becomes destructive.
Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) is in a shell of a marriage with Angel (Jesús Meza). Hers is the role of many women – mother, worker, drudge, conduit for her husband’s pleasure. Verónica meets Alejandra’s brother Fabián (Eden Villavicencio) at the hospital when she goes to treat her wounds. She entangles with his life and Alejandra’s, connecting them to the primitive and untamed.
This isn’t a horror in a classical sense. There is no gore, no suspense nor jump scares. Like a Lanthimos film, although with much more realism, the horror is actually not where it seems. It does not reside in the alien but in the every day. It is in the menace that is so banal and so pervasive it seems ordinary.
The two women are the core of the story. We spend a lot of time with Alejandra and can see the complexity of her situation. She is caught in a life with little joy and in a relationship with a husband who is also caught in his own oppression. Her salvation is to connect with her own needs although we can see from Verónica and Fabián that this can be a treacherous path for women and gay men. We see also the danger for those who cannot admit who they are.
Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.