The Untamed

Filmmakers like David Cronenberg and Andrzej Zulawski have clearly had an impact on cinema around the world. Many people have tried to imitate their styles, and few are successful. The Untamed is Spanish director Amat Escalante’s attempt. It’s not a bad movie, but I’m honestly not sure whether it’s a good one.

A space octopus has come to Earth where it is being looked after by a couple of new-age medicine hippies. It’s got an insatiable appetite for sex, and it’s apparently very good at it because its partners (or at least the female ones) keep coming back for more. Verónica (Simone Bucio) is one of those partners, but it seems that she needs a break because its pleasure has also started incurring pain. After her most recent encounter, Verónica ended up in the emergency room, claiming that her injury was a dog bite. She was attended by Fabián (Eden Villavicencio), and they hit it off right away, despite Fabián’s homosexuality.

Meanwhile, Fabián’s sister Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) is married to a horrible man named Ángel (Jesús Meza). He’s inconsiderate and abusive to Alejandra and their two children, and he’s openly homophobic toward Fabián. In that latter case, however, Ángel doth protest too much, and he corners Fabián and makes advances toward him, only to become enraged when he is flatly refused. The next day, Fabián is found comatose and naked in a field, and Ángel is arrested for it. Alejandra is utterly distraught, so Verónica decides to introduce her to the sex octopus.

This film is clearly inspired by Zulawski’s Possession, and the similarities are undeniable. The Untamed is a much more straightforward than Possession, but it’s still pretty cryptic. It’s possible that a second viewing would clarify things a bit, but I’m not sure that it’s in the same “need to rewatch several times to really grasp it” category as Possession. It also doesn’t do nearly as much to justify its veil of artsy pretension.

Even while being vague, The Untamed is still at least interesting to watch. It never becomes boring, and there’s no shortage of nudity. Parts of it do seem unnecessary, and in particular, a hallucination scene involving an animal orgy, and it could have easily been edited to be less controversial, but that would significantly take away from its entire reason for being. But since it doesn’t seem to have the kind of depth that you see in Cronenberg or Zulawski films, it’s ultimately much less substantial and much more forgettable.