I’ll start this off by saying that I’m not a subscriber to Shudder, but I have been hearing some good things about the service. When I found out that I was going to be reviewing Tigers Are Not Afraid from them, I was assuming that it would be an enjoyable horror flick, but nothing special. I was way wrong.
Tigers Are Not Afraid is not at all what you would expect. A quick read of the synopsis gives you the first hint that there is more here than just a typical horror flick. Taking place in Mexico, this movie aims it’s sights directly at the real and terrifying reality that cartels and gangs are responsible for an untold amount of missing persons cases. But the movie goes further than that, giving us the perspective of a group of orphaned children as they survive on the streets that are owned by the Huascas cartel.
Specifically, our main character is Estrella, a young girl who was given three magic pieces of chalk by her teacher during a shooting, only to make it home the same day and find her mother missing. When it becomes clear that mom will not be coming back, she joins a small group of orphans led by Shine, a scarred young boy who has it out for cartel who took his mother.
Through the eyes of these young children, we get a surprising and haunting look at what life is like on the streets of Mexico. Blending fantasy, horror, and reality, the children see and hear things that aren’t there, in what we can only imagine is the way the cope with the extreme stresses that their environment bears down on them. This is where the Shudder part comes in – Estrella hears and sees her mother who guides her on her path to discovering the truth. I won’t necessarily call this movie all that scary, but the overall events that are happening are truly terrifying, and I won’t soon forget anything about it.
The best compliment that I can give this movie is to compare it to Pan’s Labyrinth – one of my favorites. Showing us this world through the children’s eyes and giving us a glimpse at how they cope with the harshest conditions. I think that this movie goes beyond entertainment value and will hit you straight in the heart with something more. This one will leave you thinking and distressed. You owe it to yourself to give this one a watch.
This movie looks absolutely beautiful on blu-ray. For how gritty and dirty a lot of the environments are, this film has some of the most gorgeous imagery. While the cgi for the fantasy parts is not exactly top notch, it adds a charm and believability that they are part of a world we are not meant to see.
The audiotrack is also quite excellent. The DTS-Master Audio 5.1 channel track is in Spanish, so subtitles will be necessary for most of us, but the acting was surprisingly great for how young the kids are in this film. The dialog sounds satisfying and the action and horror scenes have a filling soundspace that pull you in.
Tigers Are Not Afraid gets it’s blu-ray debut on a gorgeous steelbook with a Blu-ray and DVD disc and a J-card. The following special features are included:
- The Making of Tigers Are Not Afraid
- Interview with Guillermo del Toro and Issa Lopez at Tiff
- Director Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Casting Sessions
- Photo Galleries
Our Recommendation for Tigers Are Not Afraid:
Moreso than any other movie I’ve seen this year so far, Tigers Are Not Afraid is going to stick with me. It is haunting, arresting, and terrifying, and not just from the horror elements but because of the very core to the story – things like this are actually happening out there, and seeing how children cope with these situations is something that rarely gets filmed so masterfully. I cannot recommend this movie enough.