Simone Bucio and Eden Villavicendo in The Untamed (Strand Releasing)

Most films about aliens concentrate on abductions and world domination, but what about those beings who come to Earth solely in the pursuit of some good ole trans species booty action? The Untamed is a film about sexual repression and homophobia, with some creature horror thrown in for good measure.

Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) and Angel (Jesús Meza) are a married couple in a small Mexican town raising two boys. A factory worker and land surveyor, respectively, they live on modest incomes, despite the fact Angel’s parents seem to be well-off. Alejandra’s brother, Fabian (Eden Villavicencio), works as a nurse at a local hospital, and we soon discover that Angel and Fabian are having an affair behind Alejandra’s back.

A mysterious drifter, Veronica (Simone Bucio), is treated by Fabian in the hospital emergency room and begins a flirtation with him. While having the discussion of whether Fabian prefers women or men, Veronica discloses that she cannot determine the gender of her most recent lover. Intrigued, Fabian goes with Veronica into the woods to meet the alien creature that came to Earth on a meteorite and gives Veronica carnal pleasure.

The basic story of the love triangle is easy to follow. It’s when the creature enters the narrative that it starts to get messy. Strangely enough, given recent movies, the creature isn’t even impregnating anyone; it seems bent on just giving humans erotic pleasure. Or maybe it is impregnating them in ways that aren’t immediately identifiable.

This is self-taught director Amat Escalante‘s fourth feature film. Before this, his controversial film Heli received the Best Director Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The Untamed is an impressive blend of Lynchian psychodrama and Cronenbergian psychosexual creature horror, made even fresher with the suburban Mexican setting. The fact that the writer-director sets this film in his hometown speaks volumes of the microcosmic commentary that’s going on.

Angel the closet-case could have easily been a one-note antagonist, but instead he has the meatiest role. He works a blue-collar job despite his father having connections. He is a vegetarian despite his father being an avid hunter. In this small-town environment, these are socially acceptable ways for him to rebel. When it comes to his relationship with Fabian, that’s another matter. In front of his wife, he deflects and covers by making fun of Fabian’s outward homosexuality, but in private, he is the needier of the two, blowing up Fabian’s phone with “I need you” text messages.

The themes are both uniquely specific to the setting’s geopolitics and universal at the same time. It may actually take a second or third viewing to figure the movie out, in the spirit of Lynch and Cronenberg films, of course. Watch it with friends and debate what the creature represents, and what the real monster of the film is.

Directed by Amat Escalante
Written by Escalante and Gibran Portela
Released by Strand Releasing
Mexico.100 min. Not rated
With Ruth Ramos, Simone Bucio, Jesús Meza, and Eden Villavicencio