Thursday, September 15, 2016


John Cribbs & Chris Funderburg strongly suggesting that I check out The Untamed is a testament to how much they get my taste in movies. The Untamed was directed by Carlos Reygadas' former assistant Amat Ecalante so it's easy to compare his latest film to Reygadas' work (especially Post Tenebras Lux)...

Post Tenebras Lux/The Untamed

It's also easy to compare certain scenes in The Untamed to Tarkovsky but that's too lazy (even though it is a fare comparison in my opinion). There are similar visuals between The Untamed & the Tarkovsky influenced Antichrist...

The Untamed/Antichrist
And since we are delving to the horror genre, it isnt too out of line to compare some of the visuals in The Untamed with Kubrick's The Shining (certain visual elements only. Stanley Kubrick would/could never make a film like The Untamed)...

The Untamed/The Shining

The more I think about it, comparing The Untamed to Tarkovsky is like comparing any random "weird" movie to David Lynch. It's almost the cinematic equivalent to saying all Black people (or Asian, Latino, etc) look alike. For me - this is everything I wanted Under The Skin to be (yes I still think that movie is overrated). Under The Skin & The Untamed are similar in that both films involve people being lured to a mysterious room where crazy shit happens. But there's a bit more depth to The Untamed and it doesn't feel like a feature length music video like in the case of Under The Skin. I'm sorry in advance for sounding so aggressive but if you like Under The Skin and can't get in to The Untamed then something is wrong with you. It would be like enjoying the films of Tarantino but hating Jarmusch's Mystery Train.

What starts out as a somewhat sterile family drama about infidelity slowly morphs in to a droaning surreal supernatural horror movie about a cabin in the woods that houses a mysterious "thing" that grants both pleasure & death depending on the person. But the shift in story/tone/genre doesn't just come out of nowhere. Like Todd Haynes' Safe, The Untamed always has this undercurrent of a potential threat looming even in scenes when "nothing" is happening thanks mostly in part to the score. We see the main protagonists sitting & eating dinner with their children but we wonder what's going to happen. When is the startle going to come? I know I compare a lot of ambient droany scores to Brian Eno and this is no different (perhaps the score for The Untamed is a darker/bottom heavy version/imitation of Brian Eno). The Untamed would still be a solid movie without the score (actually, it would be incredibly interesting without any music) but the film's music just puts everything on another level.

After reading all of that so far do you see what I mean in terms of John & Chris understanding what I like? Just read back some of the key words, phrases & connections: Carlos Reygadas, Droany Brian Eno-esque music, Tarkovsky, Todd Haynes/Safe, etc. This is all me. The Untamed is also a very sexual film (on a realistic level) which isn't a bad thing either. Some of the dialogue & scenarios concerning sex in the film play off of the basic human need for sex.

I know I'm contradicting myself from earlier by comparing this to Reygadas but a lot of the sexuality in The Untamed plays out like the sex scenes in Battle In Heaven (a film Escalante worked on) as well as the bath house scene in Post Tenebras Lux.

Do you like sex?

Don't we all?

The Untamed is subtle and it also lays all its cards on the table. I'm sure there's some deeper political commentary on Mexico (something common with Escalante's other work) but I gotta be honest - I'm not really concerned with all that right now. Perhaps when I sit on this move a little longer I'll discover a new/different perspective (I'm writing this literally just having left the screening).
I'm more interested in the beautiful imagery and the issues placed right in front of us: sex, self-hate, family and the creepy monster kept in the back of the cabin in the woods...


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