On the DVD: The DVD includes as special features some impressive screen tests by Perkins and Isabelle in which we see them evolving their final takes on the characters; we also get a mildly interesting documentary on the construction of the werewolf Ginger becomes and a featurette that has some snappy one-liners from the cast, as well as production notes and cast notes. The Dolby sound catches the nervy grungy world of the film, which is presented in 16:9 ratio.--Rox Kaveney
"Ginger Snaps" takes the concept of the werewolf - a myth we have lived with since prehistory - and transforms it into a chilly tale of modern adolescence. It, at once, affirms teenage fears and plays upon them. Emily Perkins (Brigitte) and Katharine Isabelle (Ginger) are two teenage for whom puberty has been delayed, much to the consternation of their mother, who is constantly trying to feed them up on a healthy diet ... and checking their laundry for evidence that they've finally become women.
The sisters inhabit a world in which the intellect is numbed; the most terrifying demand made of teenagers is that they fit in. Outcasts - they are hated by their status-seeking classmates - the girls remain the closest of friends, darkly dressed, fashion-rejecting Goths united by a death pact and a fascination with the macabre, and haunted by the boredom and sterility of existence in the suburb of Bailey Downs.
On the night of Ginger's first period, the girls are attacked by a creature which has scented her blood. As they flee, it is knocked down and killed by a van. The girls escape ... but from now on, there's something not quite right with Ginger. Brigitte can see it, Brigitte works out what has happened, Brigitte sets out to save her sister, to find salvation not in religion, but in science and a drug remedy for the curse which has infected Ginger's blood.
This is sophisticated horror. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are magnificent in the lead roles: there is a tangible chemistry between them. Perkins creates a dark angst and torment, steeling herself to throw off her timidity and protect her sister; Isabelle exudes arrogance and an erotic cool, makes a seamless transition from social reject to sultrypredator.
The real horror of teenage years, of course, is boys and what happens naturally. How do you cope with it? How do you cope without it? How do you cope with relationships? Can you fit in with everyone else and avoid rejection, or are you forced out, left a terrified loner desperately trying to find friends and a role? Screenwriter Karen Walton uses the werewolf as metaphor for this. Her script has wit, and a feminist bite. Most teenage horror gives menstruation a wide berth - perhaps only 'Carrie' explores the issue with any consequence.
It is obviously a Canadian movie. This is not a put down. Anything but. Canadian cinema can often be counted upon to come up with something much more sophisticated than the Hollywood studios could tolerate ... or imagine. A low budget movie - Walton and director John Fawcett fought for years to get this made - it is yet proof that a good script and good acting are the vital ingredients in a memorable film.
This is a film about teenagers, but it is not a 'teenage' movie: I'm back to my harangue about so many teenage horror movies simply being devices for a load of scantily dressed celebrities and beautiful people to run around screaming, bleeding, and wise-cracking - it's a marketing device to get teenage bums on seats and into the Malls to buy the spin-off produce.
"Ginger Snaps" is a genuinely well-written and well-performed story. It works because it is character-led, because it addresses real human fears and worries seriously: you don't have to be a 15 year old to enjoy it. This is sophisticated, intelligent cinema. If there is a criticism, it is of the last 10-15 minutes of the production where it becomes an overtly 'horror' movie. Not that this seriously detracts from the overall enjoyment and impact of the film. It remains an honest, askew vision of teenage angst, adolescent sexuality, and human fears, and is also a sincere exploration of love, loyalty, and sisterhood.
The wit is savage, as razor-edged as a wolf's fangs. With puberty comes a superfluity of blood and hair growth. "Ginger Snaps" is a black comedy which uses the theme of transformation as something which happens to everyone - although this is a decidedly female perspective, we are left in no doubt that boys face puberty with as little knowledge and as much fear, despite the bravado. Adolescence is fraught with problems of relationships - finding friends, losing friends, facing the dangers that you might offend someone, do the wrong thing, wear the wrong thing, be isolated and excluded. For those who do feel left out, life is one long night of rejection, with nothing to do but howl at the moon and hope someone, someday will understand you and love you. Now that is real horror! For Fawcett and Walton the source of all human horror lies within the human body and human mind.
I say my only criticism is the last few minutes, when the monster appears? I'm still not entirely convinced this isn't a deliberate decision by Walton and Fawcett. This film has a very solid grounding in reality, having an almost documentary feel in places. If the real horror is within us, maybe creating a brief sense of unreality only drives the fears in deeper and makes the movie just a little bit scarier? In retrospect, the ending did leave me with a sense of disjunction which possibly heightened the film's emotional impact. Judge for yourself - I still rate this the best, the very best of the werewolf genre.
The relationship between lycanthropy and menstruation is explored for pretty much everything it is worth in "Ginger Snaps," a macabre hybrid of the horror and coming-of-age genres. The screenplay by Karen Walton has lots of bite, in both directions, and even when the ending goes all horror show, director John Fawcett manages to not lose the focus on all the levels this film is operating on. This might not be a great horror film, but it is certainly a memorable combination of gags and gagging.
The story is about too sisters who are bored to tears in their suburbian Ontario track development. Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle) is 16 and Brigitte (Emily), called "B," is 15, and for fun they stage and photograph tableaus of their own deaths. Their mother (Mimi Rogers) is concerned, not because of their fascination with death or their goth wardrobe but because neither girl has had her first period. The girls are social outcasts, which only strengthens the bond between them and it clear that all they can really count on in this world are each other, which is good. Because they are going to need that bond big time when the fur begins to fly.
That is because on the night of the full moon Ginger gets her first period and is attacked by a werewolf. Now she is growing hair and other interesting things, not to mention more and more irritable (the tagline for the film is, of course, "They Don't Call It The Curse For Nothing"). We are not sure how this story is going to play out except for one thing: Trina Sinclair (Danielle Hampton) is going down for her treatment of the Fitzgerald sisters (one teen queen should never take on two goth sisters, especially in any support involving sticks and hitting). The story also involves Sam (Kris Lemche), the good boy who is trying to help "B" find a cure for Ginger's problem and Jason McCardy (Jesse Moss) the bad boy who is introduced by Ginger to a whole new level of badness. Then there is mom, who provides her own twist as she starts to put the pieces (literally) together.
"Ginger Snaps" works best when it is exploiting the horrors of puberty through the lycanthropy metaphor and when the bond of sisterhood comes into play. It is not until we get to see a werewolf up close and personal that we realize how low-budget this film really is, but that is a small price to play for being witty and showing some flair (even if the title is a rather lame joke).
The "Ginger Snaps" DVD version is totally stripped down. You get the movie and the trailer. There are chapter stops but no list of scenes and no alternative languages. However, you do get most of the neat music that plays over the end credits while you look at your two options.
"Ginger Snaps" was enough of a cult hit to take the next step to horror movie trilogy. This involves both a sequel, "Ginger Snaps: Unleashed" (aka "Ginger Snaps: The Sequel" and "Ginger Snaps 2") and a prequel, "Ginger Snaps Back" (aka "Ginger Snaps 3," "Ginger Snaps III: The Beginning," and "Ginger Snaps: The Prequel," which finds Brigette and Ginger in 19th Century Canada having more werewolf fun.
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