Too polished and neatly structured to make any real impact, and as such the violence plays out like spectacle rather than as the consequence of a political or economic system.
Some critics have noted that while Identifying Features is a strong and accomplished debut film “little is learned about the relevant issues by watching it.*” This statement reveal a lot about both how we think about film and how we think about border politics and migration, and it is especially telling when non-Mexican viewers expect the film to fill their own information gap while watching instead of paying attention to what this specific film is aiming to do.
The title is misleading. This is not revenge, and the film is certainly not feminist. It is just another conventional genre film using rape as a backdrop.
There is no satisfaction to be had, because there is no (cinematic) revenge. Within the narrative Jen is raped and left for dead, but she doesn't come back for a "manhunt" which the misleading plot summary says. It's more of a fight to the death, where the men who already raped…
What inspired this film was a news article about a man who drowned, and the headline read "faggot drowned". Amat Escalante was so appalled by the lack of humanity that he decided to make a film exploring themes of sex, homosexuality, violence and gender roles. And it the middle of it all, simply lacking any humanity: an alien which both gives humans pleasure and destroys them. When facing the cruelty and violence in Mexico, creating a supernatural being might seem less far fetched than reality.