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, when 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 and joins a band of orphans led by a boy named Shine.
When the ruling drug cartel, the Huascas, come looking for the children seeking a stolen iPhone in Shine's possession, Estrella begins to hear the insistent voices of the dead calling on her to enact revenge. Perfectly balanced between harsh reality and the fantastic, this unflinching cautionary fable from writer/director Issa López is part PAN'S LABYRINTH, part CITY OF GOD, and all innovative South of the Border fairy tale.
“This is one terrific film, both tough and touching. Two minutes in, I was under its spell.” —Stephen King “An unsparing blend of fantasy and brutality. Innocence and evil. Innovative, compassionate, and mesmerizing.” —Guillermo del Toro “This is a movie that demands to be seen, heard, and discussed as often as possible.” —Matt Donato, slashfilm.com “By telling this story through the children’s eyes with a magical-realism element, [Issa] López makes the tragically unthinkable somehow more palatable, just as did del Toro’s PAN’S LABYRINTH, where fairies and horned demons supplant some of the real-life violence that befalls the characters.” —April Wolfe, Village Voice
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