Director and co-writer Amat Escalante presents a piece of genuinely sympathetic horror, expertly conceived and acted. A scientist and his wife have something unearthly in their barn — the physical manifestation of “our primitive side” — and as the film opens, it’s using one of its many tentacles to pleasure Veronica, a young woman who appears both ecstatic and unhappy. The thing also hurts her, but she’s not about to stop visiting, or even to pause before inviting other troubled souls (bodies?) to enjoy its attention. And there are lots of troubled souls out there: miserable and closeted Mama’s boy Angel, his harried and unsatisfied wife Ale, and her “super faggot” of a brother Fabian — so called by Angel, who’s also sleeping with him. With all this pain and complication, who wouldn’t be tempted by what Veronica describes as “the most beautiful thing you will ever see,” and what the scientist says “might make you lose your will and reason,” those pesky sources of responsibility and guilt? How can love hope to thrive in a world full of cruelty, judgment, and burden? Better, surely, to retreat to that warm, dark place… An explicit and excoriating story of eros unmoored and unmooring — the devastating power of sexual pleasure when it’s stripped of both function and meaning. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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