Tigers Are Not Afraid is a bold fantasy/horror/action hybrid unlike anything you’ll see this year and is a bit of a must see. It’s slow pacing at times may not be for everyone but it’s worth seeking out.
Last night was the premiere of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival which promotes horror, sci-fi and action pictures from around the world. Before each movie we get to watch a short film made from some homegrown Canadian talent. The short film we watched was entitled Echoes In The Ice by BJ Verot which tells the story of four men who explore an abandoned research facility. Within the station unsettling signs of disorder are revealed, and in the lowest level of the facility, a chilling discovery is made.
From the synopsis alone you can tell this feels like a love letter to Carpenter’s The Thing oozing with atmosphere and dread. Although it ends rather abruptly it was very nicely done and was actually shot in Winnipeg when it was -40 outside so the cast and crew were genuinely freezing. If this were ever to be made into a full length feature I would certainly be interested as survival movies like this are awesome. It also reminded me a little of the underrated The Colony from a few years ago with Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton (RIP).
Plot: We are in some northern border. Any of them. All of them. Estrella is 10 years old and has 3 wishes: The first one, that her missing mother comes back and it happens. Her mother returns but she is dead and follows Estrella everywhere. Petrified, Estrella tries to escape from her by joining a gang orphaned by violence. Soon she realizes that dead are never left behind and when you are in the middle of brutality and violence, wishes never come true the way you want them to be.
Review: Tigers Are Not Afraid is a movie that successfully splices various genres with elements of action, horror and fantasy.
With a young cast that apparently had no previous acting experience they still manage to feel believable and we are immediately sympathetic to their plight. They are all orphans trying to survive on the harsh streets of Mexico but when Estrella (Paola Lara) joins them after her mother’s disappearance their lives take a dangerous turn.
Lara was phenomenal as the scared little girl who has terrifying supernatural visions which seem to guide her through this new life but it’s these moments which are so utterly unique that make the movie stand out as one of the year’s best pictures.
The kids all use their imaginations to create a fantasy world to essentially help them deal with the horrors of their real lives making the film quietly tragic yet beautiful.
It shines a light on the children of Mexico who have been victims of the cartels in a way few other movies have and paints a scary picture of the lives they lead.
As other reviews have said this very much has a Guillermo del Toro vibe especially with the fantasy elements and shocking moments of violence. There is a constant atmosphere of impending threat making it unpredictable and filled with tension. There is plenty of humour interspersed with this tale of survival with moments of sadness, brutal violence, tension and fear.
Considering the modest budget the film is visually impressive giving Mexico a terrible beauty with stunning sunsets mixed with the gang violence.
Overall, Tigers Are Not Afraid isn’t exactly packed with action and may be a little slow for some tastes but it’s one of the most original movies of the year with a young cast giving their all to survive in a harsh reality that has been forced upon them.
If you’re based in the Toronto area check out http://www.torontoafterdark.com as the Festival is on now and I’m sure there will be something playing that will take your fancy.