[Short Film Review] HERE THERE BE TYGERS

HERE THERE BE TYGERS is a short film based on the Stephen King story of the same name. With the exception of a few changes, it stays very close to the source material, including giving us no answers to the many questions about the Tiger. But we can’t blame the filmmakers for that, only King himself knows the answer and he’s not telling.

The story follows Charlie (Penny Munroe), a fifth-grade student who, like her counterpart in the book, deals with some serious problems, especially for a child. She’s bullied by her classmates and is sure that her teacher has it out for her. In fact, in her words, her teacher, Miss Bird (Jennifer Trudrung), is “out to destroy her.” And on this particular day, Miss Bird is going to use the fact that Charlie has to use the bathroom to enact her plan. Now while this might not seem like a big deal to us, the story is told from the perspective of a child, and if you think back to your childhood, everything “private” was embarrassing. And poor Charlie, not only does she have to pee, she gets up to find that her skirt and legs are covered in blood. Every girl’s worst nightmare.¬†Charlie heads down to the bathroom and when she gets there she’s surprised to find a Tiger has also taken up residence.

There are already a few changes from the book to the film. Charles in the book becomes Charlie and she’s in 5th grade as opposed to Charles being in 3rd. But the Tiger is where the book and movie differ the most. In the book, it’s a full Tiger. Big body, big teeth, sharp claws. In the film, it’s a tiger mask. Something that, as we see from when Charlie is walking down the hallway, a child has made.

What happens to the bully, Miss Bird, and the Tiger remains the same in both the film and the book. The same goes for our main character who quietly walks out of the bathroom and back to the classroom as if nothing has happened. But in this version, she’s wearing the tiger mask and her classmates are wearing other animal masks. While the effect is incredibly creepy and unnerving, I didn’t like it as much as I like the idea of just walking out and ignoring the whole thing completely. King didn’t want to give us any hints as to the true identity of the Tiger, but this version kind of points you in the direction that Charlier is the Tiger. Then again, maybe the whole thing is in her head. Or maybe she never came back from the bathroom at all.

The mystery of the Tiger may never be solved, but Paul Schattel (director) and Jennifer Trudrung (screenwriter) do a great job of giving this old story new life, leaving me, 20 years after reading the story, still wondering about that Tiger in the bathroom.

Penny Munroe and Selah Atwood in HERE THERE BE TYGERS | Image courtesy of IMDB
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