provocateur

IN THEATERS (SF) – “The Untamed”

The Untamed (2017; Dir.: Amat Escalante)

GRADE: C+

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, August 4, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

More dreary provocation from Heli director Escalante, this time an intriguing but no less deadening blend of sexually charged sci-fi and kitchen-sink social drama.  Impressive newcomer Ruth Ramos stars as Alejandra, the flustered and unsatisfied wife to Ángel, a macho scumbag who is secretly sleeping with Alejandra’s gay brother Fabián.  Creeping in from the margins comes Verónica (Simone Bucio), a strangely soothing outsider who worms her way into Fabián’s life, eventually enticing him to a cabin in the woods that houses a strange presence.  When Fabián is found dead, Ángel is accused of the murder, but Alejandra finds herself drawn towards that same strange presence in the woods…with sexy results!  (Not really, it’s super gross.)  The film earns maximum points for sheer “What-the-shit?!”-ness, offering an unholy blend of Cronenberg-ian body horror and domestic misery porn, and yet it all feels unusually empty.  As was the case with Heli, there is a potentially fascinating and wholly original film flickering on the fringes of The Untamed, but Escalante’s navel-gazing sadism still takes center stage.