After a festival run that began with its world premiere at Fantastic Fest in 2017 and stretched out for nearly a year and a half, Mexican writer-director Issa López’s excellent magical realist horror-fantasy Tigers Are Not Afraid is finally set to make its U.S. debut. It will do so courtesy of AMC’s horror streaming service Shudder, which made similarly bold moves when it acquired exclusive streaming rights to the gonzo Nicolas Cage vehicle Mandy back in October and hit Japanese zom-com One Cut Of The Dead earlier this month.
Unlike Mandy, Tigers Are Not Afraid won’t have an accompanying theatrical run. But much like One Cut Of The Dead, it’s baffling that Tigers Are Not Afraid, which has earned nearly universal acclaim from critics and was nominated for 10 Ariel Awards (the Mexican equivalent of the Oscars), didn’t make its stateside debut earlier. On that note, Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman said on Twitter that the acquisition process for the film was slow and complicated:
We listed Tigers Are Not Afraid as one of our favorites from last year’s Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans, giving it a B+ and writing:
Set in an anonymous border town where “ghosts are created every day,” the film centers around a group of orphans on the run from a sadistic cartel boss after one of them steals a cell phone from one of his flunkies. The Tigers’ rooftop hideout is like something out of Hook, and the film moves along at a brisk, Spielbergian clip; however, the combination of dark themes mixed with whimsical fantasy strikes a tone more similar to Guillermo del Toro’s early work.
The film comes endorsed by López’s biggest fan, Guillermo del Toro, who calls López “a fantastic new voice in the genre” and who is executive producing one of the many projects she currently has in development, an as-yet-untitled supernatural Western. The film also secured the coveted Stephen King bump back in October 2017, when he tweeted:
Along with the aforementioned project with del Toro, López is “also developing a musical about Latino culture in Queens, NY for Paramount Pictures, and a supernatural revenge thriller for Legendary,” according to a Shudder press release.
You can watch the subtitled trailer for Tigers Are Not Afraid under its Spanish title, Vuelven (They Return), below.
UPDATE, 7/17/19: Shudder has announced dates for Tigers Are Not Afraid’s North American theatrical run, which will begin on August 23 in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Nationwide expansions are planned for September, in advance of the film’s streaming debut on Shudder.