A recurring theme in domestic horror movies is the struggle to retain one’s humanity, or at least reaffirm one’s supposed superiority over non-humans. The current wave of highly explicit genre films from Latin America, such as the Ariel-winning We Are the Flesh, the Brazilian Neon Bull — which is not strictly a horror movie, but unapologetically bestial — and now, Amat Escalante’s The Untamed (La Región Salvaje) suggest that we’re better off embracing our animal sides, and they may well have a point. The Untamed’s setup is pure soap opera, until it isn’t: Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) is a working mother of two rambunctious young boys, and her brutish homophobe of a husband Ángel (Jesús Meza) is having totally not-gay sex on the downlow with Alejandra’s brother Fabián (Eden Villavicencio), a male nurse.
Fabián develops a platonic friendship with a patient named Verónica (Simone Bucio), who’s admitted with what looks like a rabid dog bite — but is, in fact, from an alien tentacle-monster that can give any human the best (and usually non-fatal) lay of their life if they’re inclined to let it. The triangle of Alejandra, Ángel, and Fabián would be enough for most films, especially as Ángel’s closeted homosexuality clashes with his culturally ingrained machismo and homophobia — but in The Untamed, as in life, an alien tentacle-monster makes everything better.
The Untamed (La Región Salvaje)
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.