Amat Escalante’s The Untamed

So Shudder just added a Mexican horror film called The Untamed about an alien that literally has sex with people and you know what it’s actually pretty good. When I say that I don’t mean metaphorically, allegorically or any other vague or illusory way to present the concept, I just quite bluntly mean that a slimy tentacled alien emerges from a crashed meteor and has slimy alien intercourse with any female body that gets close to it. Now as stark and upfront as the premise is presented, it is also subtly used as metaphor for what’s going on in the lives of several troubled individuals in small town Mexico, the extraterrestrial itself viewed as an arbiter for sexual dysfunction, closet homosexuality in a conservative setting, clandestine adultery and other interpersonal shenanigans of the like. Nor does the film present its subject matter as anything close to schlock or exploitative in nature and at times doesn’t even feel like an abject horror film, but rather a tense, eerie, melodramatic tragedy that just happens to have an extended cameo by a sex monster from outer space. The effects on the creature itself are tangible, tactile and terrific, the performances from the human actors all most excellent and elicit sympathy, show complexity and emotional range while being sufficiently creepy when under the sultry influence of the alien’s potent, seductive and very weird pheromone like spell, almost like a cosmic drug trance that is translated excellently into the screen by these artists, none of whom I’ve seen in anything else before. Word of warning with this one though: it’s not a prudish North American studio film and as such doesn’t beat around the bush with explicit sexuality, which is totally normal and fine if it weren’t for the fact that said sexuality includes a multi-tentacled being from space and you see *everything* when this thing is copulating with women, which may be too much for some. It’s not done in a violent, perverse or shameful way and the scenes have a sort of almost bizarre tranquility to them, but it is a *very* disquieting form of intercourse to absorb and experience onscreen and some may be uncomfortable. Very unique and challenging film overall.

-Nate Hill

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