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Film / Tigers Are Not Afraid

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Tigers Are Not Afraid (Spanish: Vuelven) is a 2017 Mexican crime horror film directed by Issa López.

Estrella is a 10-year-old girl living in the violent streets of Mexico. After being given three pieces of chalk that grant one wish each, she wishes for her mother to come Back from the Dead. The chalk works, but it does so by making her spirit into an undead abomination that follows Estrella wherever she goes. Our heroine ends up joining a gang to distract herself from the horror, but soon she learns that some things are scarier than ghosts...

This film contains examples of:

  • Animal Motif: Tigers, who are depicted as fearless and powerful creatures. At the end, they become a metaphor for those who survive abuse and tragedy.
  • Avenging the Villain: After Estrella seemingly kills Caco, his brother pursues the street kids in revenge. This turns out to be a case of Misplaced Retribution, as it turns out the brothers' boss El Chino did it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Any wish the chalk grants has a terrible side effect. Estrella wishing for her mother to come back summons her ghost, wishing to not have to murder Caco makes her find him dead of unrelated causes, and wishing for Shine's scar to disappear leads to El Chino shooting him in the face.
  • Big Bad: Servando Esparza, AKA El Chino, the brutal drug lord terrorizing the city.
  • The Cartel: The main antagonists are the Huascas, a brutal drug cartel seeking a phone with incriminating evidence.
  • Corrupt Politician: El Chino, head of the Huascas, spends the film running for government office to advance his organization's cause.
  • Crapsack World: Mexico is depicted as a crime-ridden hellhole where gun violence happens near schools on the regular, and people get murdered constantly. Gangs of orphans roam the streets, and the cartels control the government.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Estrella and the other children are initially tormented by Caco, a member of the Huascas who intends to kidnap them all. However, Estrella finds his body twenty minutes in, setting the rest of the Huascas after them, culminating in a confrontation with their leader El Chino.
  • Hate Sink: El Chino is a vile human-trafficking Drug-lord who gleefully murders children. The man is such utter human garbage you'll feel like cheering when he's ripped apart by the ghosts of his many, many victims.
  • Human Traffickers: One of the Huascas' primary sources of revenue is child trafficking.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The ghosts in the film are benevolent guardians, while the real threat are a drug cartel.
  • I See Dead People: Estrella's wish to see her mother again gives her the ability to communicate with all of El Chino's victims.
  • MacGuffin: The Huascas are after a cell phone Shine stole from one of their members, which has incriminating evidence.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: These are shadowy, raspy-voiced specters trapped on Earth by violent deaths. They can communicate with people who have special abilities and interact with the outside world either by possessing objects or contact with a medium.
  • Panthera Awesome: The film opens with Estrella writing a Fairy Tale about a prince who wishes to be a tiger because they feel no fear.
  • Police Are Useless: When a couple of the street kids try to report El Chino to the police, they outright refuse to help and flee in terror.
  • Rewriting Reality: Estrella has three pieces of chalk, each of which grants her one wish.
  • The Sociopath: El Chino, a politician who leads a brutal cartel that deals drugs and Human Trafficking. He shows no real regard for anybody, executes his own men when it suits him, and can't even feign kindness when he's letting people live, instead simply acting completely indifferent to them once they meet his ends.
  • Street Urchin: Estrella falls in with a gang of street kids whose parents were also taken by the Huascas.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Aside from the Human Trafficking mentioned above, the Huascas spend the entire film trying to kill a group of street kids to get some incriminating evidence from them.