This tale from writer-director Issa Lopez can be seen as a modern-day thriller fused with perhaps an influence of Pan’s Labyrinth in terms of its narrative formula of mixing real-life drama and supernatural horror.
Estrella is a young girl who finds herself living in a very bad neighborhood during the Mexican Drug War. When gunfire erupts just outside her school on day, her teacher gives her three pieces of chalk, each representing a wish. When she returns home, she is shocked to discover her mother has been missing. Meanwhile, Shine, the leader of a youth street gang, steals a gun and iPhone from Caco, who is the number one man of notorious drug lord Chino. When Shine has the chance to kill Caco, he can’t do it.
The next day, Estrella is desperate to find her mother when she begins hearing strange voices. She meets Shine and despite his reluctance, he lets Estrella join them. On the condition that Estrella proves herself by killing Caco, Shine will let Estrella join them. However, as Estrella finds Caco, he is already dead but with no one left to go to, she covers it up and claims to have killed him. However, Chino, learning of what’s been happening, goes after the kids. Meanwhile, Estrella continues to listen to the strange voices and learns some horrifying truths around the voices she is hearing.
A fusion of the occurrences of real life with a dash of supernatural terror, Issa Lopez doesn’t hold back in the depiction of the Mexican drug war, showing the various effects it can have on children and then out of nowhere, adds the idea of voices that soon become a guide of sorts for our lead character Estrella, even when she finds herself shunned on various occasions from the members of the youth street gang who steal and find ways to survive.
Paola Lara churns out an excellent performance as Estrella, the young girl whose emotional set can be reminiscent of Ivana Baquero’s Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth. This is considering the situation Estrella finds herself in. Between the strange voices to using the chalk to grant “wishes”, Estrella is quite an interesting character as she longs to find her mother and gets in with a youth gang. Juan Ramon Lopez brings a sense of both tough and determined in the role of street gang leader Shine. While he tends to find a will to survive, he sometimes does it with too much of a hard head and not just because of the way he acts when he steals Caco’s gun, but the way he treats Estrella just shows that level of hardheadedness.
Issa Lopez really delivers the brutal reality of the drug wars and its devastating impact from the kids’ point of view. At times, we even see kids getting killed, not so much because they are in the crossfire. But the film takes the twist of picking the street gang one by one due to Shine’s actions from stealing a gun and iPhone from Caco. The film also takes the harsh reality of how politics can come into play when it is revealed that Chino, the notorious drug boss, is running for a political seat while all this is going down.
Tigers Are Not Afraid takes the devastating impact of reality and adds a dash of the supernatural horror genre, driven by excellent performances by the cast and Issa Lopez’s script, which doesn’t hold back its gripping realism.
WFG RATING: A
Shudder and Raven Banner Entertainment presents a Filmadora Nacional/Peligrosa production. Director: Issa Lopez. Producer: Marco Polo Constandse. Writer: Issa Lopez. Cinematography: Juan Jose Saravia. Editing: Joaquim Marti.
Cast: Paola Lara, Juan Ramon Lopez, Ianis Guerrero, Rodrigo Cortes, Hanssel Casillas, Nery Arredondo, Tenoch Huerta.
The film is now playing on Shudder and will have a Blu-Ray/DVD release on May 5.