Are Fairytales Real or Just Imagined?
Because Tigers Are Not Afraid is set in present time, the layered and magical way the story is told really gives you something to think about after the credits roll and the screen goes dark.
When I saw the trailer for this Mexican horror, fantasy infused with childhood fairytales I knew I had to see it. Lucky for me it was part of 2018’s Fantasia Film Festival Line up. Now it’s coming to Shudder and will begin streaming from September 12th 2019.
Whether or not you believe that making three wishes will allow your dreams to come true, this darkly lit, shocking film by Issa Lopez will test your senses. Lopez found a way to give the world some insight into the horrible drug wars happening right now not only in Mexico but mirrored in many countries around the world.
What’s It About?
Five kids join forces in an attempt to navigate the vicious cartels within their massive universes. Ghosts created through various types of death are both friend and foe in this story.
Quick Film Information
Writer and director: Issa Lopez.
Release: Initially screened at Fantastic Fest September 2017 it’s Canadian premiere at Fantasia Film Festival 2018
Starring: Paola Lara, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes and Juan Ramon Lopez.
How Was It?
For a film totally reliant on the performances of children, Tigers Are Not Afraid did not make me cringe. Not even once. For me, that says a lot as sometimes the performances of kids in movies can not only make or break it but grate on the nerves.
In opening shots, the scene is set around a classroom of youngsters. Estrella is among them and almost immediately everyone including the class teacher is on the floor as gunshots ring out. And so the rest of the film proceeds without flinching against many societal grievances; guns, violence, gangs, and street kids.
My biggest gripe with many films is runtime. This one goes for 87 minutes and they were over in the blink of an eye with the story flowing from one event to another. There is just enough character involvement that I found something to love about each of the children. Peppered with supernatural and fantasy elements I found the blend of reality and fiction to go hand in hand. I was often left wondering whether the events surrounding Estrella’s three wishes were real or imagined.
In an interview I read with the director Issa Lopez, this story relates to the real victims of criminal activities. Estrella returns home after school and her mother has simply vanished. Estrella begins to use her wishes but bad things accompany her actions when she does. The kids themselves all find ways to be stronger than they are in the circumstances they exist in and it’s all wrapped up in the fairy tales they tell each other to survive.
I really loved this film and its ability to layer so many things into such a poignant and horrific theme. It feels like a dream but the deaths within filled with lots of realism.
There is no VOD release date for this, but if you like foreign films that feel like a flash of Guillermo del Toros influence was shoved in them, then add it to your watch list for when it does.
I give Tigers Are Not Afraid 4 It takes a plastic-wrapped body to say goodbye out of 5.
Want more Fantasia Reviews?
See Microhabitat: A romantic drama about Miso, who gives up everything for whiskey and cigarettes.
Words by Vanessa Stewart Gary Gamble is the founder of Moviehooker. My website vanessasnonspoilers.com