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Review: The Mexican erotic horror of ‘The Untamed’ is unnerving

Simone Bucio, left, and Ruth Ramos in the film "The Untamed."
(Strand Releasing)

Amat Escalante’s unusual erotic horror film “The Untamed” doesn’t intend to spook or scare its audience but rather unsettle, provoke and possibly titillate viewers. This is a task it easily achieves, balancing outré material with a supremely controlled style.

Verónica (Simone Bucio) is both femme fatale and damsel in distress in this story. After a violent encounter with a mysterious, curious lover, she meets and befriends a kind male nurse, Fabián (Eden Villavicencio), and starts to draw him into her world.

Verónica’s not the only one with a unique relationship and secrets to keep, and soon she’s entangled in the complicated familial web of Fabián. His sister Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) is unsatisfied in her marriage to Ángel (Jesús Meza), who is stepping out on her, and Verónica offers a kind shoulder of support, and strange and intriguing opportunities to explore her own sexuality. To elucidate more of the plot or even the characters would spoil all the creeping, surprising discoveries this film has to offer.

“The Untamed” is unnerving in its unwillingness to offer easy answers to the questions it poses about the opportunities for liberation outside of the shackles of heterosexual marriage. It’s deviantly, defiantly sex-positive, but every moment of pleasure has grave repercussions. Escalante draws remarkable performances out of his cast of mostly newcomers in this film about the consequences of pleasure and the many meanings of flesh; where animal intelligence fills the void left by emotional disconnect.

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‘The Untamed’

In Spanish with English subtitles.

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; Laemmle Playhouse 7; Pasadena; the Cinefamily, Hollywood

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