Fantasia 2023: Our Review of ‘Tiger Stripes’

Posted in Fantasia 2023 by - July 26, 2023
Fantasia 2023: Our Review of ‘Tiger Stripes’

In hindsight, The Exorcist was kind of bullshit. Periods suck, but they don’t make you the devil. The scariest parts of that film were never projectile vomiting and head-spinning. It was always the spinal tap, and the brutal intensity of “science” trying to figure out what was wrong with Reagan.

Not to participate in gender essentialism, but Amanda Nell Eu’s debut feature Tiger Stripes—the winner of the 2023 Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes—is the female directed rebuttal to the body horror as menstruation allegory genre. Periods don’t make you the devil, but how society treats you does.

Zaffan (Zafreen Zairzal) is about to find this out. Right now, she’s got two friends: Miram (Piqa) and Farah (Deena Erzal). They’ve got a little club together. However, when Zaffan bleeds for the first time, that changes. It’s a black mark, a scarlet letter, a tiger stripe.

Tiger Stripes runs a gamut of emotions. I cackled on numerous occasions, particularly at the exploits of Dr. Rahim (famous Malay actor Shaheizy Sam), a foppish Father Merrin wannabe. What I love about the film is that the horror is less concentrated on the body, despite being a body horror film. Yes, the central allegory here is menstruation. But the film’s actual commentary is on the repression of the society around these girls. The real horror here is the rampant misogyny that surrounds them.

Yet, hope remains here. Without spoiling things, the ending of this film devastated me. I cried very hard (my partner thought I was dry-heaving because I was about to throw up). It’s a final sequence that’s ecstatic; in fact, one could call it Beau Travail-equse. Soceity makes you the devil. However, if you can find someone who sees you as human, it can make all the difference.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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