REVIEW — “Tigers Are Not Afraid”
Some of my favorite film of all-time are those that blend genres. The Cabin in The Woods, The Shape of Water, Shaun of the Dead, etc. Tigers Are Not Afraid overcomes the very difficult task of making a coming-of-age film, a statement on the drug wars and political corruption in Mexico, and also happens to be a full-fledged fantasy-horror film. I have no idea how this movie juggles so many themes and characters at 80 minutes and makes everything work, but Issa Lopez finds a way to strike an incredible balance of it all. The characters feel fully realized, you care about them and their stories and goals, you feel the pressure and horror of the drug war at every turn, and most of all – the horror aspects work incredibly well. This is an absolutely fascinating, wholely original film through and through.
I’ll try to be light on the plot as I went into this knowing absolutely nothing and found that to be a wonderful experience – the film follows a group of children who are all (mostly) orphans. Most of their parents have been killed by or as a result of the cartels. They go on an “adventure” to take down the cartel and anyone else who might possibly be involved with all the horror. On top of all that, there are a decent amount of spirits and other worldly creatures throughout the film too. It’s quite a trip, and I highly encourage all of you to check it out.
One of the best compliments that I think you can give any coming-of-age film is that the young actors did their jobs. While there are several characters and you don’t really get to dig in too deeply with every single one of them, the film does a good job at making you buy their chemistry and love for one another. The children themselves all do fantastic and work great with one another – it’s even more impressive when you consider how dark and challenging a lot of the subject matter here is. Issa Lopez doesn’t shy away from showing deeply disturbing imagery that helps tell her story and make her statement, but it also never overshadows the rest of the film.
If I had any real complaints with this film, it might be that I found it to be frustratingly short. On the one hand, I understand that you can both do only so much with the budget you are given and it’s already hard to sustain a concept for any runtime, let alone a feature film. I commend Issa Lopez for already doing as much as she can with so many different genres and ideas and themes blending together, but I still would’ve possibly liked to see it stretch to another 10-15 minutes. However, this is far from enough to make me sour on the film at all. If anything, it’s a testament to how much I loved it because I just wanted to see her go all the way with it. I highly recommend checking this out, especially if you’re clamoring for original films to be made.