Netflix recently released its first trailer for the drama-mystery Tragic Jungle (Selva Tragica) by Mexican filmmaker Yulene Olaizola (Epitafio). Set in 1920 on the border between Mexico and Belize, the film follows a group of Mexican gum workers who come across a young, mute Belizean woman (Indira Rubie Adrewin) on the run in the jungle. The woman turns out to be the mythical Mayan seductress Xtabay.
According to Yucatec Mayan mythology, Xtabay is a supernatural demon who preys on men in the Yucatán Peninsula by luring them in with her beauty. Tragic Jungle, which won the Best Film in a Foreign Language award at last year’s Venice Film Festival, is loosely inspired by the novel Caribal: El Infierno Verde.
“The jungle is a living being, harassed by those men trying to steal its treasures; but it takes revenge in different ways, with poisonous plants, swarms of mosquitoes, fierce animals and with the enchantment of mysterious creatures,” Olaizola says in a statement.
Olaizola notes that she and her crew filmed for seven weeks in the area south of Quintana Roo and ventured “as deep into the jungle as much as we could.” In the trailer, the characters are engulfed by the wilderness, and the men who find Xtabay have no idea how to respond to the dread and desire her presence instills.
“After seeing the Xtabay, you feel alive for the first time,” one of the men says. From the eerie tone of the trailer, something tells us feeling “alive” might only be a temporary sensation.
Tragic Jungle premieres on Netflix June 9.