Catherine’s (Sarah Roy) seemingly perfect rural life is turned upside down after she discovers her husband is hiding a dark secret. The secret changes everything, leading her to the unthinkable. Murder.
Stephanie Zari‘s Zebra Girl is an extremely breezy and quick watch with a total running time of seventy-nine minutes including credits, so it’s really not too long at all. However, it certainly feels considerably longer than that, and that’s because of how sloppy the script work is. The performances all across the boars are surprisingly pretty good, especially from Sarah Roy who is genuinely chilling and whose looks can say a thousand words. Also great here is Tom Cullen as Dan, who is also chilling and gets one of the more interesting backstories in the film.
The problem though is that the film as a whole really doesn’t have that punch. The first fifteen minutes or so were actually really solid and I was invested almost immediately. It gave me similar vibes to The Killing of a Sacred Deer and even a hint of Promising Young Woman blended in there as well. Some of the musical cues are a little bit eerie too. By all accounts, it looked like the film was headed in a relatively good direction, but sadly, I was mistaken.
After that fifteen or twenty-minute mark, Zebra Girl, unfortunately, starts to feel like one of those Lifetime channel original murder movies that think they’re extremely smart, but in reality, it’s just really dumb. Sometimes the story can even be a bit confusing as you’re often left wondering “Wait, who did that?” and “When did this happen?”. There are so many times in the film that I was left scratching my head despite my eyes being glued to the screen the entire time.
Do we get some answers later on? Some, yes, but the answers that we are given are not satisfying mainly because the overall mystery that the film sets up is just not interesting in and of itself. It’s hard to pull off a rewarding and cathartic ending when the rest of the movie is just so bland and uneventful.
By the time the credits rolled, I truly didn’t get a sense of who any of these characters were. We only ever learn a couple of things about Catherine, our lead protagonist, and even Dan, who serves as a sort of mysterious figure in the film, is painfully unexplored. How are we supposed to get invested in a story when the characters that inhabit it feel so lifeless?
As I said earlier though, the performances are actually quite good so I can’t complain about the actors. They did a genuinely solid job with their respective performances here, but I just wish that they got more meaty roles. Hopefully, a lot of these actors, especially Sarah Roy and Tom Cullen, will get some bigger roles down the line because I think they truly have what it takes to be in a major Hollywood production.
And lastly, the music here is quite eerie and a treat to listen to as well. Caspar Leopard‘s musical cues line the film and they never feel bored or uninspired. His music was really the only aspect of the film that gave me the goosebumps. The rest of the movie kind of gave me goosebumps in a way, but not in a good way.
Overall Grade: D
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Stephanie Zari
Distributed by: Bohemia Media
Release Date: May 28, 2021
Running Time: 79 minutes