‘Tiger Stripes’ Review – Who Knew Body Horror Could Be So Sweet?

The Big Picture

  • Tiger Stripes
    makes use of physique horror to emphasise the struggles of puberty in a heartwarming but gross approach.
  • The movie’s allegorical method to adolescence explores societal points by transformation.
  • While the movie might undergo from predictability and pacing points, the heartwarming ending makes it a should-watch.

Coming of age is about discovering your distinctive qualities and waving your freak flag excessive. But how freaky can that basically get? It stands to motive that loads of adolescent-impressed tales would dip their toes in some moderately freakish content material, however Tiger Stripes takes issues to a complete different stage. Last yr’s worldwide indie horror scene witnessed the discharge of some distinctive overseas-language movies that take care of coming-of-age themes, with French-Canadian movies Red Rooms and Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person each tackling the topic in utterly reverse methods. But it is one unlikely debut from Malaysia that takes the cake for probably the most outrageous method but.

The Malay-language movie Tiger Stripes is the function-size directorial debut of Amanda Nell Eu. The author-director’s prior works embody the 2017 quick movie It’s Easier to Raise Cattle, which follows two teenage outcasts in a distant village, considered one of whom experiences violent, monstrous modifications; a transparent sufficient allegory from its premise alone. Nell Eu’s movies usually make the most of the physique horror style to inform a coming-of-age story, to surprisingly candy and heartwarming outcomes… regardless of their disgusting imagery and prosthetics in fact! In the case of her function debut, the story follows 11-yr-outdated Zaffan (Zafreen Zairizal) as she experiences modifications to her physique that is perhaps extra than simply puberty.

What Is ‘Tiger Stripes’ About?

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Tiger Stripes begins as a slice-of-life window into the world of three Malaysian schoolgirls. Realism oozes from the movie as its 11-yr-olds take pleasure in TikTok dances by the river, and sometimes face scorn from their conservative mother and father for shedding their modest college uniforms and hijabs. Enjoying their youth with out a care on this planet, they watch a viral video of a tiger terrorizing an area village, which not solely pertains to the movie’s title, however foreshadows issues to come back. As the primary of her buddy group to get her interval, Zaffan goes from being fashionable amongst her like-minded pals to being talked about very like the viral movies of tigers who terrorize native villages. Farah (Deena Ezral) particularly, begins to show Mariam (Piqa) towards Zaffan, inflicting Zaffan to see her transformation as one thing extra monstrous than regular.

Some good comes from Zaffan’s latest modifications, together with turning into exempt from paying conventional respects to her academics as elders. But this solely results in extra resentment from Farah. Eventually, Zaffan loathes these bodily modifications, seeing them as heightened and unnatural. Like most youngsters, she notices whiteheads seem on her face, and hair rising on her lip, however given Farah’s animosity, these rites of passage current themselves extra grotesquely. Zaffan’s fingernails fall out, as do her toenails, quickly to get replaced by tiger-like claws. These sensible results won’t look as convincing as you’d hope, however the gross issue does loads of heavy lifting. Eventually, Zaffan turns into a freak not simply within the eyes of her pals, however of the entire city, gossiped about very like the tiger within the viral video.

What Is ‘Tiger Stripes’ Really About?

A young girl hides in a bathroom.
Image by way of Dark Star Pictures

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Recently, the time period “elevated horror” has settled into the zeitgeist, though many would argue horror has at all times been elevated. It refers to films that use their heightened horror as an allegory to discover extra grounded and relatable social commentary. 2020’s The Invisible Man is actually about home abuse, The Witch is about misogyny, and Get Out is about ‘the publish-racial lie’. Likewise, Tiger Stripes makes use of Zaffan’s metamorphosis to point out how one thing as pure as puberty could make somebody really feel when they’re alone in experiencing it. Her pals’ Lord of the Flies-style marketing campaign towards her is emphasised within the plot, imagining that she truly turns into a tiger, feared by even the village’s adults and physicians.

Zaffan’s Kafkaesque expertise begins by displaying grounded puberty-associated modifications to make her transformation an empathetic and common expertise. Whether it is meant to be taken actually or in any other case, Tiger Stripes‘ eventual metamorphosis right into a creature function sees Zaffan embrace the modest college uniform and hijab that she had initially shed, and conceal her options with a view to slot in. She is cursed with bodily disgrace, one thing she hadn’t beforehand skilled that she took as a right as a baby. She is ostracized by her contemporaries, displaying how this era of adolescence could make sure women really feel. It’s telling that every one it takes for Zaffan to return to her human kind is the ladies’ change of perspective. This is the place the movie’s poignancy takes flight.

‘Tiger Stripes’s Heightened Depiction of Puberty Deserves Praise

A young girl leans over a sink in a room lit by red light in Tiger Stripes.
Image by way of Dark Star Pictures

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Once its premise is established, the movie’s second half does admittedly undergo from predictability and a gradual tempo, however finally it comes again round to a redeeming end, simply as coronary heart-warming as it’s grotesque. Somehow, this pores and skin-crawling physique horror succeeds in making a younger woman’s smile right into a reveal that the viewers did not know they had been holding out for till we get it on the finish. The aid felt when Zaffan is allowed to return to her joyful self from the start proves to its viewers simply how torturous it was to see the movie’s occasions by Zaffan’s personal eyes. This daring function debut refuses to shrink back from gore, social commentary, or a heartwarming ending for its characters. Its tough visible results often rob the movie of its down-to-earth high quality, but it surely at all times rapidly recovers, reminding audiences that it is the movie’s coronary heart that issues. Tiger Stripes shouldn’t be one to overlook.



Tiger Stripes (2023)

Tiger Stripes reminds us that pubescent confusion will be the scariest factor of all.


  • Despite its restricted particular results, Zaffan’s Kafkaesque transformation does effectively to place the viewer in her footwear… or paws.
  • Amanda Nell Eu’s homegrown Malaysian film reminds us why style is one of the simplest ways to inform a secular human story.

  • Once its premise is made clear, the movie suffers from its gradual pacing, as we wait to be proven what we already count on is coming.

Tiger Stripes is now accessible to stream on VOD within the U.S.


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