Catherine (Sarah Roy) is pink-loving, pearl-wearing housewife to lecturer Dan (Tom Cullen), who inherited great wealth from his family, and the two live seemingly happily in their country mansion. However, viewers only learn this after they see Catherine shoving a knife in his eye as he sits at his computer at 3am. She calls her old friend and lover Anita (Jade Anouka) to help her dispose of the body. From here on out it transpires that both Catherine and Dan have harboured extremely dark secrets for most of their lives, and the unravelling of these secrets is what gets the narrative to the point when Catherine carves off her husband’s arm with a pink bow saw.
This film takes on extremely dark subject matter, from paedophilia to incestuous molestation, to the side effects of antipsychotic drugs. Cinemagoers should not be fooled by the advertising and pink colour scheme that suggest something similar to Promising Young Woman (which has an extremely important conversation in a humorous and digestible tone) – this is dark and sometimes hard to watch. There is a gratuitous child molestation scene (one doesn’t see anything but the suggestion is upsetting enough), and plenty of gore.
It’s clear that Zebra Girl could not decide on a tone from the outset, and so tried out a few and mashed the results together. This production earns two stars for taking on intriguing human elements and having quite a strong story at its centre, But it loses three for not handling the issues it raises with the requisite sensitivity. It could have touched on an important conversation about how people with unacceptable but unrealised desires are treated – do they deserve help, healthcare, should they become parents? And above all else, can they be cured?
This film cuts between a melodramatic love affair, an unsettling and gory horror, and a camp comedy, where the characters do the Moondance in response to seeing a dead body. Each is a strong feat but thrown together they are disjointed and the result is a mess. If director Stephanie Zari could have decided on one tone and stuck with it, she could have been on her way to creating a thought-provoking and incredibly original indie.
Zebra Girl is released in select cinemas on 28th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for Zebra Girl here: