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In a world where most horror movies are either gory, spooky or just campy, Tigers Are Not Afraid stands completely alone. Its a horror story inside a dark crime fairytale that’s deeply haunting, in more ways than one. It’s a Mexican film directed by Issa L贸pez and stars up-in-coming actors Paola Lara and Juan Ram贸n L贸pez. Both of which deserve as much praise as we can throw at them.

There are hundreds of films about the Mexican cartel. Hundreds; Sicario, Savages, The Mule, Miss Bala, Traffic, etc. Although never have I seen one that puts such a unique focus on the forgotten victims, the orphans created from the many massacres carried out by the crime lords. This film is from 2017 and went on Shudder in early 2019, but it never got the attention it deserves.

The horror is their brutal reality

The story takes place in a Mexican city that’s been devastated by the Drug War, where abandoned children run loose in the streets. They live in tents on the roofs of buildings, steal food to survive, creep through alleyways with guns, and treat other groups of children as rival gangs.

The film opens with a young girl, Estrella, writing a story in school about a tiger prince who has lost the will to fight. As she tells her story, we’re introduced to El Shine, a young boy living on the street who dreams of killing crime lord El Chino (Tenoch Huerta).


The prince in her story represents every lost child in the country, and in the world, but the tiger is something exceptional. Shine and Estrella are tigers who have forgotten their true nature. They must relearn how to be brave and wild if they want to survive, because “tigers are not afraid”.

Juan Ram贸n L贸pez as El Shine

The tiger prince is inside us all

After her school story, Estrella’s given three pieces of chalk that grant wishes. She then goes home to find out that her mother has been kidnapped by the human trafficking ring, ‘The Huascas’. Alone, she joins another group of orphans that roam the streets; Pop, Tucsi, Morro and their leader Shine, the boy from the beginning.

In a way, Shine serves as a permanent physical reminder of the war’s many casualties. On the side of his face are several burn marks from a previous encounter with The Huascas.

As the film progresses, Estrella makes her three chalk wishes. Only they bring violent repercussions. They give a whole new meaning to the phrase “be careful what you wish for”. In the beginning, after her mother goes missing, Estrella wishes to see her again, a request that ignites a series of hauntings.

Paola Lara as Estrella

The horror in the film is double-jointed. There are two kinds. One is in the cold brutality in which they live, and the other is in the ghosts of the past. There is an actual supernatural element but it’s not what you expect.

In stories, and in real life, ghosts are memories. They are the memories of a person’s soul, a house, a land, etc. The victims of The Huascas appear but they don’t feel like spirits. They’re more like the echos of missing souls and they want revenge against El Chino, the man who murdered them.

Tigers Are Not Afraid will sit with you long after it’s over. Beautifully shot and directed with brutal intensity, the story is heartbreaking. I promise you that little Shine will absolutely break your heart. Go watch it. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Photos belong to Shudder and the Marco Polo Constandse production company


Rachel Roth is a writer who lives in South Florida. She has a degree in Writing Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing, her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. @WinterGreenRoth

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Movies n TV

You Reap What You Woe



Episode five of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was very busy. A lot is going on here, and most of it is quite fun. So let’s not waste any time getting into it.

First, we must discuss the fate of poor Eugene. If you鈥檒l recall, the last episode ended with Wednesday finding him in the woods, covered in blood.聽

Despite Principal Weem鈥檚 insistence that he鈥檚 resting up and healing, he鈥檚 actually in a coma in the local ICU. But maybe she has reason to gloss over that unfortunate fact. It鈥檚 parents鈥 weekend, after all. Probably not the best time to admit that a student was grievously injured. 

While there are certainly some Nevermore students who are happy to see their parents, none of our main characters are among them. We know that Wednesday isn鈥檛 thrilled to see her family, as she鈥檚 still resentful that they left her there. 

Family therapy scene from Wednesday

Still, she鈥檚 not exactly pleased when Gomez is arrested for the murder of a man named Garrett. This devastates the family and forces Morticia to reveal a secret she鈥檚 been keeping from Wednesday. 

Morticia also finally gets a chance to talk about Wednesday鈥檚 visions with her. She tells her that Goody Addams, who鈥檚 made psychic contact with Wednesday several times, is there to teach her about her visions. But Goody Addams is also super vengeful, and not to be trusted. I wonder why. 

While much of the episode is about freeing Gomez from jail, the subplots are no less interesting. 

Let鈥檚 start with Enid. As we know from the first episode, she has yet to grow into her full werewolf potential. If she can鈥檛 do this, she鈥檒l be shunned by her kind and likely abandoned by her family pack. Her mother wants to help her, by sending her to a summer camp meant to help werewolves wolf out. Enid refers to these as conversion therapy camps. Which is clearly a problem. 

The story that shook me was Bianca. She’s outright afraid when her mother shows up. And the reason is soon made clear.

Her mother is part of a cult called the Morning Song. Bianca鈥檚 mother is married to the leader. She鈥檚 been using her siren song to trap people in the cult. But her powers are fading. She wants Bianca to come take her place. If she doesn鈥檛, she鈥檒l reveal a terrible secret of how Bianca got into Nevermore Academy in the first place. 


I honestly don鈥檛 have a lot of bad things to say about this episode. Except that wolf out is a ridiculous term and I cannot take anyone who uses it seriously at all. The characters were fun, the storyline was interesting, and it was satisfying to start getting answers. It helped that this episode included some real-world bad guys, like conversion therapy and cults. If every other episode of this season had been as good as this one, the show would be top marks from me all around. 

This episode was a dramatic example of exactly how parents can fail at their job of raising their kids. And, thankfully, how they can succeed. We see Enid’s mom refusing to let her grow at her own pace. We see Sheriff Galpin ignore a clear cry for help from his son Tyler. We see Bianca’s mother, involved in a cult, using her child for her siren powers. And of course, we don’t see Xavier鈥檚 parents at all.

Lucius Hoyos

But we also see Morticia being a good mom to a difficult kid who鈥檚 rebelling against her. We see Enid鈥檚 father supporting her, exactly as she is. We see Eugene鈥檚 moms by his side at the hospital. At the bedside of their son, they are still able to give comfort to Wednesday. That is some strength right there. 

Overall, this was a fun episode. We got some answers and were introduced to even more questions. I had fun watching it, and I鈥檓 looking forward to the next episode.聽

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Solace, a Film Review

Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan and Abbie Cornish.



Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film includes Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell. As of this review, it is currently available to Netflix and Hulu subscribers.

As a string of murders leave FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) perplexed, Joe turns to an old FBI contact and friend, Dr. John Clancy. Dr. Clancy possesses psychic abilities that make him an essential asset, but tragedies in his personal life leave him distant and broken. Fearing a person with similar gifts as himself, Dr. Clancy cannot help but lend his assistance.

Anthony Hopkins stares with a blue tent over his right eye. Colin Farrel behind him. The background is blue with several faces.
Solace Alternative Cover Art

What I Like

This cast is great, with notable legends living up to their reputation. While by no means career-highlighting performances, they work well together and provide a weight that pushes past lackluster character roles.

As the main character, Anthony Hopkins鈥檚 Dr. Clancy stands out above the rest. Given the most screen time and plot relevance, this opinion comes easily. His role has the most opportunity to make us care for his character.

Solace creates fun and engaging scenes that tie directly to the characters鈥 psychic abilities, adding tension in unique ways. While other movies with psychics utilize similar strategies to convey this power鈥搕he movie Next comes to mind鈥搕he scenes add variety to otherwise lackluster cinematography. This decision also adds a somewhat strategic nature to the psychic battles.


Originally intended to be a sequel to Seven, this idea, thankfully, does not follow through to the final product. The story behind that is the typical Hollywood shuffle and brand recognition. I can鈥檛 exactly figure out a place to put this interesting fact, but the choice remains a benefit to the film.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Slight spoilers ahead! Read this section with that in mind.

A closeted man contracts AIDS and infects his wife. As this goes into rather old homophobia and fears, I felt it needed mentioning. Considering the film’s release date, 2016 (US), the plot point feels uninspired.

Some gratuitous sex scenes tie into the above reveal. The dramatic reveal and voyeuristic nudity (of the wife) make for an odd viewing experience. When the reveal isn鈥檛 shocking, it doesn鈥檛 exactly add much weight to the elongated scenes.

Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrel separated by a knife.
Solace International Cover Art

What I Dislike

There are no tactful ways to go about the low effort of the film. It鈥檚 surreal to see the names attached, the concepts addressed, and how it all fumbles. I imagine this discrepancy has something to do with the original sequel idea, but that remains speculation. Ultimately, the film feels awkwardly low budget for the cast it possesses.

Adding to this weakness are the underdeveloped characters and rushed plotlines. The film feels unfocused in direction, revealing things as they become relevant with fluctuating degrees of foreshadowing. Some of these revelations work, with some speculation, but adding them all together makes Solace weaker as a film.

This film isn鈥檛 scary, despite the premise being extremely promising. The idea of a potentially psychic killer does evoke a lot of possibilities, added with the exceptional cast, and it seems destined for success. Yet, the horror is middling at best.


Solace wants to be more and achieves some success in certain areas, but its inability to build and support these ideas hinders the overall quality. Perhaps Solace desires to upstage the twists of the typical mystery thriller that makes the film grasp too many new and interesting ideas. Regardless of the reason, the film suffers, and the viewing experience becomes underwhelming.

Final Thoughts

For a thriller killer, Solace doesn鈥檛 hold much water to competition. While the cast performs their roles perfectly and works well with each other, the notable weaknesses in writing and lackluster visuals don鈥檛 do the acting justice. A surprisingly exciting cast becomes a disappointing letdown. 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Woe What a Night



Episode four of Tim Burton鈥檚 Wednesday was one that plenty of people have been talking about. And now that I鈥檝e seen it for myself, I can see why. It was memorable. Just not always in good ways.

We start the episode with Wednesday and Thing breaking into the morgue for clues. They discover that each of the monster鈥檚 victims has missing body parts.聽If you’ll recall, a homeless man was murdered at the end of the last episode.

While investigating, Wednesday finds Xavier鈥檚 secret art studio. He鈥檚 been drawing and painting the monster over and over. So, at least someone else has seen it. 

Of course, Xavier catches her skulking around his studio/abandoned building on school property. 


I honestly don鈥檛 understand why this school has so many buildings around campus accessible to students without teacher supervision. I wonder what the teen pregnancy rate is at this school.

Cornered, Wednesday invites him to the RaveN dance. This, of course, pisses off Tyler, who has a thing for her. An unrequited thing, might I add.

Not surprisingly, Wednesday doesn’t care about the dance. She cares more about getting information about the monster. She goes to Sheriff Galpin, who does seem to be an ally. At the very least, it seems like the two of them are the only ones taking the literal monster in the woods who is eating people seriously.

They agree to work together, to a point. She brings him concrete evidence of the monster, and he agrees to do a DNA test for her. 

Of course, we couldn鈥檛 just focus on that. There鈥檚 a dance to go to. 


If you haven鈥檛 seen a single episode yet of Wednesday, you at least know about this goofy dance the title character does in this episode. Everyone was doing it, from morning shows to teenagers on Tik Tok. And it鈥檚 fine. It reminds me of some dance scenes in Addams Family Values. It was awkward and a little funny. It wasn鈥檛 worth the hype, but it was charming.

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday.

Of course, while the kids are dancing, the town kids are planning to prank them. I mean, I guess this is a prank. They pump paint into the sprinkler system and set it off during the dance. Of course, everyone but Wednesday is wearing white. 

In the resulting chaos, Wednesday has a vision of Eugene, who went into the woods looking for the monster’s lair. This, of course, is exactly what she told him not to do. She runs out to find him but doesn’t beat the monster there. Strangely, she’s not the only one running around in the woods covered in blood. So is Ms. Thornhill.

Overall, this was a rather cliche and dull episode. But it wasn’t without its moments. One thing I appreciated was Bianca’s response to Xavier at the dance. Even though she was pretty desperate to go to the dance with him, she doesn’t allow herself to be disrespected. I appreciate that. She didn’t take her anger out on Wednesday, either, which was nice. It’s 2023. We don’t need girls being cruel to each other over boys.

I also like Wednesday going to Sheriff Galpin, and him believing her. We did not have to suffer through the cliche of a teen who doesn鈥檛 trust the adults around her. Neither did we see the pompous adult who doesn鈥檛 listen to the teens when they bring evidence to them. And this was so refreshing. I loved to see it. 

Now, let鈥檚 talk about what didn鈥檛 work here. Specifically, there were too many teenagers with moody, angry brooding moments. Everyone has a crush on everyone else, and nobody is handling it well. Shocker. 

Emma Myers in Wednesday

I am not entertained by teenage love triangles. Tyler likes Wednesday, who doesn’t care. Bianca likes Xavier who likes Wednesday, who still doesn’t care. It’s an irritating subplot and could have been replaced by any number of good stories. And yes, I understand that this is a kid’s show, intended for kids. Kids deserve smarter subplots. Kids are worthy of smarter subplots. If Disney can realize not every story needs a love component, everyone can.

All in all, this wasn鈥檛 a great episode. But it wasn鈥檛 terrible. There was way too much focus on dances and teenage relationships. But at least it moved the mystery forward. So there鈥檚 hope for the episodes to come.聽 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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