Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

Known as Vuelven in Mexico, a title that translates as Return, this movie may have introduced many in the rest of the world to Issa Lopez, whose schedule is now packed with future films, including a werewolf Western produced by Guillermo del Toro and a supernatural revenge movie for Legendary Pictures.

This movie depicts the harrowing lives of children in the midst of the war on drugs in Mexico. It is not for the faint of heart, as any rules of how children are treated in film are thrown out the window.

While her teacher is discussing fairy tales, gunfire explodes outside the classroom. Estrella’s teacher hands her three pieces of chalk, telling her that they will give her three wishes.

With her mother missing, Estrella falls in with a group of orphans led by Shine, who has already stolen a gun and phone from one of the most powerful gang leaders. This sets into motion a series of confrontations where the contents on the phone will prove where Estrella’s mother is and doom nearly every member of the young gang of children.

Are wishes real? Is magic real? Can Estrella escape the very real and possibly imagined horrors that she must deal with? These questions are all answered and you may not like where they lead.

As for the wishes, the first is that Estrella gets her mother back. She does, but only as a ghost that never stops following her. The second is for the gang leader to already be dead so that she doesn’t have to shoot him. He is, but the wish may not have been the cause. Finally, she gives her last wish to Shine, who wants his burned face to go away. That wish is the most tragic of all.

None of the children in this film had any acting experience. They did, however, practice in some improvisational workshops with an acting coach before the movie started filming. Interestingly, it was shot in chronological order and the actors were never shown the script, so that the emotional responses felt more genuine.

You can watch this on Shudder.

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