Mexico, 2017. Fantasy, Horror.
83 min.
Director: Issa López

Del Toro and King big supporters

It is not surprising that one of the champions of «Vuelven.» the «Tigers are not Afraid.» original name in Spanish, is the renowned and award-winning Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. Besides reminiscent themes in Del Toro’s cinema, the director Issa Lopez is also of Mexican nationality. But the fact that the film receives praise from Stephen King will make any horror fan curious. The movie raised so much expectation that now is a Shudder exclusive

Poverty and violence meet fantasy.

Tigers are not Afraid (2017)
Tigers are not Afraid (2017)

Estrella (Star in Spanish) and Shein are a couple of pre-teens who live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Mexico City. Estrella returns to her house after a shooting outside of her school. But strangely, her mother is not there to receive her. On his part, El Shein takes advantage of a drunken man and steals his cellphone and gun. A short time later, Shein also entered to rob Estrella’s house, and he informed her why her mother has not yet returned: she was kidnaped by the Huascas, the group of drug traffickers that dominates the area. The situation complicates when the drunken man that Shein stole from is the Caco, a member of the Huascas, while Estrella begins to see supernatural apparitions in her house.

Brutality in Mexico.

Tigers are not Afraid (2017)

Issa Lopez directs and writes this story that right from the start hits us violently, but at the same time enchants us and moves us. Just as Del Toro told stories where he combined fantasy and horror with the reality of the Spanish civil war seen through the eyes of a child, Lopez does the same in the streets of modern Mexico. The very current problem of violence and brutality generated by drug cartels affects the entire population of Mexico, but particularly the poorest. As in the Del Toro movies, the real monsters are human beings. It only remains for us to determine if the apparitions that Estrella sees are real or creations of her imagination wanting to escape from a reality that exceeds her.

Beauty on a harsh place.

Tigers are not Afraid (2017)
Tigers are not Afraid (2017)

Paola Lara as Estrella and Juan Ramon Lopez as Shine admirably carry the weight of the film. A great responsibility to fall for these two young actor’s shoulders, taking into account that Lara has little experience as an actress and on Lopez’s part none; this is his first appearance in a movie. It is evident the union between the child actors and results in genuine chemistry. We can empathize and sympathize with them.

Tigers are not Afraid (2017)
Tigers are not Afraid (2017)

The cinematography is a well-accomplished work by Juan Jose Saravia. It takes perfect advantage of the narrow and dirty corners of the poorest neighborhoods of Mexico City, presenting a high sense of realism to the story. The viewer feels trapped in a labyrinth of dirty streets and dilapidated houses, but he also manages to display beautiful images despite the decay around the characters. A reflection of the innocent childhood imagination of always wanting to find the best side of things

Good film despite imperfections.

Tigers are not Afraid (2017)
Tigers are not Afraid (2017)

Despite having many successes, the movie is not perfect. Unlike Del Toro films, the supernatural takes a back seat; the creatures are not prominent. It does not help that the special effects are not particularly good.  There are several continuity errors, some slight but others more important. (The times do not match regarding the relevant recording of the cellphone that Shein stole Caco). Despite this, the film maintains the same rhythm and tone in its duration, keeping the viewer expectant and tense about what will happen to our group of little survivors against all the horrors they have to face, physical and supernatural. «Tigers are no Afraid» is an honest and solid production by Issa Lopez.

Delirium score

Beautifully made flick meshing fantasy and horror in a horrible and dangerous place. Despite imperfections, the overall atmosphere and great acting make it a magical experience.

Written by Guillermo Garnica Bouchot

Music Lover, Comic Reader, Film Buff, Cat Person.

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