Tigers Are Not Afraid

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Tigers Are Not Afraid.jpg
Directed byIssa López
Produced byMarco Polo Constandse
Written byIssa López
  • Paola Lara
  • Juan Ramón López
  • Ianis Guerrero
  • Rodrigo Cortes
  • Hanssel Casillas
  • Nery Arredondo
  • Tenoch Huerta
Music byVince Pope
CinematographyJuan Jose Saravia
Edited byJoaquim Martí
  • Filmadora Nacional
  • Peligrosa
Distributed byVideocine
Release date
  • September 24, 2017 (2017-09-24) (Fantastic Fest)
  • November 2, 2017 (2017-11-02) (Mexico)
Running time
83 minutes
Box office$576,164[1][2]

Tigers Are Not Afraid (Spanish: Vuelven, lit. 'Return') is a 2017 Mexican crime fantasy film written and directed by Issa López. The film is produced by Marco Polo Constandse, under the banner of Filmadora Nacional, and Peligrosa. The film stars Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, Ianis Guerrero, Rodrigo Cortes, Hanssel Casillas, Nery Arredondo, and Tenoch Huerta.


Estrella (Paola Lara) is a young girl in a Mexican city devastated by the Mexican Drug War. While working on a fairy tale writing assignment, Estrella’s classroom is disrupted by gunfire outside the school. Amid the panic, Estrella’s teacher hands her three pieces of chalk she says will grant three wishes. Following the incident, classes are indefinitely suspended.

Street orphan Shine steals a gun and an iPhone from Caco, a henchman of crime boss Chino, who is actually politician Servando Esparza. Shine points the gun at Caco, who is drunkenly oblivious to the theft, but is unable to shoot.

Estrella walks home past a dead body on the street. A trail of blood from the body follows Estrella to her house, where Estrella discovers that her mother is missing; a probable victim of rampant drug cartel-related violence from Chino’s human trafficking ring ‘The Huascas.' Growing lonely and desperate for food, Estrella wishes for her mother to return. Estrella begins experiencing haunting visions of her mother as a ghost imploring Estrella to “bring him to us.” Soon after, Estrella catches Shine looting her house. Estrella follows Shine back to his hideout and meets fellow orphans Pop, Tucsi, and Morro. Shine refuses to feed her or welcome her into his gang but Estrella stays with the boys anyway.

Caco comes looking for his stolen gun and phone. The other children escape, but Morro is kidnapped. Shine gives Estrella the stolen gun and tells her that if she kills Caco, he will let her remain in his gang. Estrella sneaks into Caco’s apartment. While aiming the weapon, Estrella makes a wish that she didn’t have to kill Caco. She then sees that Caco is already dead. Estrella frees Morro and tells Shine that she killed Caco. Later that night, Estrella has another vision of her mother. She warns that the man who really killed Caco will be looking for Estrella, and Estrella must bring the man to her. Shine, Estrella, Pop, Tucsi, and Morro bring the other rescued boys back to their rival gang leader Brayan. Brayan taunts Shine for having Estrella kill Caco when Shine should have been the one to do it. Estrella finds Shine crying over the fact that he couldn’t kill Caco. Shine confesses that he keeps Caco’s phone because it contains a picture of his own missing mother. Having heard about Estrella from Brayan, Caco’s brother Tio calls Caco’s phone to threaten the children.

After the kids decorate soccer balls, Shine tells Estrella more about his mother. Shine asks Estrella if she might use her last wish to remove the burn scars on his face. Estrella refuses, claiming something bad happens every time she makes a wish. Tio captures Shine while the other boys stage an imaginary talent show. Estrella has another haunting vision of her mother along with other murder victims while hiding from Tio before also being captured. Morro shoots Tio to save his friends, but Tio shoots and kills Morro. The other children escape.

Wondering why recovering the phone is so important to the Huascas, Shine and Estrella closely examine its contents. They discover Caco recorded a video of Chino killing a captive woman. Estrella has Shine call Chino. Chino threatens the children. Estrella bargains to turn over the phone if Chino makes the remaining Huascas disappear. Chino agrees and arranges a meeting. Chino also reveals that he was the one who actually killed Caco because Caco could not turn over the stolen phone. In the wake of the revelation that she did not kill Caco, Shine and the other two boys shun Estrella. Haunting visions of dead people chase Estrella, again telling her to “bring him to us.” Fearful of Chino, Pop and Tucsi steal the phone from Shine. They show the footage to two policemen, but the officers refuse to act when they recognize the murderer as Chino. Shine takes back the phone. Shine notices that the bracelet worn by the murdered woman in the video is identical to the bracelet worn by Estrella’s mother in a photo seen earlier. Morro’s ghost tells Estrella where to find the boys. When they reconnect, Shine tells Estrella the truth about her mother. Estrella insists that they must go to Chino or else he will kill them all. After burying Morro in a box dropped into water, Estrella, Shine, Pop, and Tucsi go to the meeting with Chino, Tio, and another henchman in an abandoned building, where Shine turns over the phone. When Shine refuses to reveal the password, Chino crushes the phone with his foot. Chino then executes Tio and the other henchman, explaining to Estrella that he honored his part of the agreement. Pop and Tucsi run away.

Recognizing the building, Estrella insists on finding the room where her mother died. Shine accompanies her. Shine reveals that he still has Caco’s phone because he gave Chino a decoy. Shine advises Estrella that wishes aren’t real. Estrella still chalks Shine’s cheek and makes a final wish that his scars disappear. Chino suddenly shoots Shine through his face. Estrella flees while Chino chases after her. Morro’s tiger doll leads Estrella into a shaft. Estrella falls into a room containing numerous dead bodies, including her mother’s. Estrella tearfully connects with a vision of her mother when her mother’s bloody body briefly reanimates. Estrella uses Caco’s phone to lure Chino into the room and trap him inside. The ghosts of his victims are heard killing Chino.

Estrella encounters Shine’s ghost. After their conversation, Shine enters the body pit room and sets it on fire. On her way out of the building and into an open field, Estrella encounters a tiger that escaped from a zoo.


  • Paola Lara as Estrella
  • Juan Ramón López as El Shine
  • Ianis Guerrero as Caco
  • Rodrigo Cortés as Pop
  • Hanssel Casillas as Tucsi
  • Nery Arredondo as Maxwell "Morrito" Vázquez
  • Tenoch Huerta as El Chino
  • Cuauhlti Jiménez as Jerry
  • Mauricio Osorio as Tio
  • Mónica del Carmen as Estrella's teacher
  • Benny Emmanuel as Brayan
  • Viviana Amaya as Estrella's mother


Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 98 reviews, and an average rating of 8.22/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Tigers Are Not Afraid draws on childhood trauma for a story that deftly blends magical fantasy and hard-hitting realism - and leaves a lingering impact".[3] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 76 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[4]

Peter Debruge of the Variety wrote, "The actors may be young, but the story skews decidedly mature. After all, in her commitment to realism, López allows terrible things to happen to the kids — including death in several cases — and that’s a hard thing to accept, not because it doesn’t happen in the real world, but on account of the melodramatic and manipulative way such tragedy is handled".[5] Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Both the emotion and the horror might have taken still deeper root if the world of the movie felt less hectic and more coherently realized, if the supernatural touches and occasional jump scares welled up organically from within rather than feeling smeared on with a digital trowel".[6] Brian Tallerico of the RogerEbert.com wrote,"Tigers Are Not Afraid may be imperfect, but you can feel the passion and creativity of its filmmaker in every decision. She’s fearless."[7]


Award Category Recipient Year Result Ref(s).
Ariel Award Best Make-Up Adam Zoller 2018 won [8][9]
Breakthrough Actor Juan Ramón López Won
Best Visual Effects Raul Prado
Juan Carlos Lepe
Edgar Piña
Filmadora Nacional
Best Actor in a Minor Role Tenoch Huerta Nominated
Best Direction Issa López Nominated
Best Sound Emilio Cortés
Martín Hernández
Alejandro Quevedo
Jaime Baksht
Michelle Couttolenc
Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Issa López Nominated
Best Editing Joaquim Martí Nominated
Breakthrough Actress Paola Lara Nominated
Calgary Underground Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Issa López Won [10]
Fant, Bilbao Fantasy Film Festival Best Film Won [11]
Best Script Won
Film Club's The Lost Weekend Best Director Won [12]


  1. ^ "Vuelven (2017) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  2. ^ "Tigers are Not Afraid (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  3. ^ "Tigers Are Not Afraid (Vuelven) (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  4. ^ Tigers Are Not Afraid, retrieved 2019-08-24
  5. ^ Debruge, Peter; Debruge, Peter (2019-08-23). "Film Review: 'Tigers Are Not Afraid'". Variety. Archived from the original on 2019-08-23. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  6. ^ "Review: A grim fairy tale, 'Tigers Are Not Afraid' peers at war through a child's eyes". Los Angeles Times. 2019-08-21. Archived from the original on 2019-08-23. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  7. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Tigers Are Not Afraid Movie Review (2019) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Archived from the original on 2019-08-24. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  8. ^ "NOMINADOSariel2018.pdf" (PDF). docs.google.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-08-26. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  9. ^ "Ariel Awards, Mexico (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  10. ^ "Tigers Are Not Afraid - Calgary Underground Film Festival". www.calgaryundergroundfilm.org. Archived from the original on 2019-08-26. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  11. ^ "Fant, Bilbao Fantasy Film Festival (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  12. ^ "Film Club's The Lost Weekend (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-26.

External links[edit]