A Mexican town held hostage to a brutal drug war is the setting for a sublimely creepy Guillermo del Toro-esque fairytale of real life horrors about a young girl whose supernatural intuition leads her to form an alliance with a gang of orphaned boys.
“Issa López is a fantastic new voice in the genre.” – Guillermo del Toro
In towns along the Mexican-American border, tens of thousands have disappeared or been murdered, victims of the powerful, warring drug cartels, while children at school often have to lie on the floor to avoid crossfire. One such afternoon, Estrella receives three pieces of chalk from her teacher, who tells her each piece will grant one wish. That evening, her mother fails to come home, and Estrella wishes for her mother’s return, but is horrified when she discovers the truth concerning her disappearance. Estrella flees to the streets, joining a band of orphans, led by a boy named Shine, for companionship and protection. At first, the boys resent her presence, but after she rescues one of them from the home of a gang member, they embrace her. Soon afterward, the Huascas, the ruling drug cartel, come looking for the children, seeking a stolen iPhone in Shine’s possession. All the while, Estrella hears the insistent voices of the dead, calling upon her to enact revenge. Drawing influence from “The Monkey’s Paw,” The Sixth Sense, and the darkest of Grimms’ fairy tales, director Issa López crafts a bewitching, unsettling fantasy inflected by real world horror. (Dir. by Issa López, 2017, Mexico, in Spanish with English subtitles, 82 mins., Not Rated)