Movie Review: Tigers Are Not Afraid

“We forget that we are princes, warriors, tigers when things outside come to get us.”

Estrella is in school, working on an assignment to write a fairy tale, when shots ring out. Her class dives to the floor, taking cover until the violence stops. While she is lying there her teacher gives her three pieces of chalk, one for each of three wishes she’s been bestowed.

When her mom doesn’t come home that night she makes her first wish …

Creepy things happen. Sudden movements behind her. Whispered voices.

She flees her home and joins Shine’s “gang” — a group of young boys — on the street. The condition? She has to kill a member of a local gang who snatched their mothers, and one of the boys from the group, off the street.

Tigers Are Not Afraid follows Estrella’s journey as she finds her place on her own, parentless, in a world where the forgotten children end up living on the street until they are snatched up and disappear.

One of the things that’s tough about reviewing this movie is that it’s important to avoid spoilers. As with many great movies, things are not exactly how they seem. Contrasting very real horrors — as well as some ghosts and strange experiences — against the innocence of childhood both adds to the poignancy and impact of the story.

This movie has won more than a dozen international film awards, and is streaming on Shudder. It’s just under 90 minutes, and tells an interesting story that subverts some common ghost story tropes in a compelling way, and is highly recommended.

And keep your tissues handy.