10.20.2009

Ginger Snaps (2000): An Overdue Look




This Canadian flick has been on my to-do list for quite some time. I remember seeing the cover art on the VHS or DVD at Blockbuster and not having any interest in it. The incredibly unimaginative tagline, the cheesy half-wolf girl in the background, and the leering goth teens on the cover were not good signs. Still, I would continue to hear good things about Ginger Snaps from the occasional horror fan. I’ve been encouraged to watch it so many times that it’s a wonder it has taken me nine years to see it.


It's so hard being beautiful...

I was stuck with the bland “Meh” reaction after sitting through its stretched 108 minute runtime. It’s decent enough, but lacks any sort of punch. The opening credit sequence established a creepy tone and introduced us to the twisted Fitzgerald sisters. In some ways, I thought the film was pretty bold. Not only were the two female leads photographing themselves in bloody death poses within the first ten minutes, but they were not dressed up to be eye candy as expected (at least not yet). Ginger is the pretty, older sister or the Marsha of the family, while Brigitte is more like Jane. She’s quite plain—more plain than you’d ever expect to see from a final girl. So I appreciated the Fitzgerald sisters in contrast to the I Know What You Did Last Summer’s and Urban Legend’s that were being released around the same time.


In Canada, Kurt Cobain was still alive in 2000.

Ginger Snaps is a coming of age, sibling rivalry movie with some werewolf stuff thrown in every twenty minutes. I was disappointed by how little werewolf action there was and when things did happen, it was mostly off screen. Come on guys. You can’t tease me with lycanthropes and not deliver on some juicy kills. What a shame. The best scene involving a werewolf is the one in which Ginger is first bitten and Brigitte scrambles after her screaming sister in the woods. It’s shot with intensity and doesn’t reveal too much of the beast. The performances are also top-notch. In fact, I might even venture to say it’s the standout scene of the entire film…which is unfortunate.

While the non-canine drama is occurring, it’s mostly pretty good. The film does a great job of establishing the sisters’ mutual and even unhealthy dependency on one another. We understand why Brigitte doesn’t turn her back on Ginger, as she slowly transforms into a murdering, hungry beast. Along the way, there’s some nice comedic relief about high school and teenage girl angst, which may not be as funny to male audiences. It’s actually quite interesting how similar this film is to Jennifer’s Body. It’s almost the same setup, except they are sisters instead of friends and Ginger Snaps has a more somber tone. Jennifer’s Body is a poppy version of the story where a beautiful high school girl is transformed into a sexed up creature that craves blood, while her female companion is taken advantage of as the less attractive girl.  


Haven't I seen this before?


Oh right...



Although it’s not great, I still lay out a welcome mat for Ginger Snaps into the lonely werewolf genre. There’s just not enough films to fill out the subgenre, so we gotta’ take what we can get I guess. The technical elements are all there, particularly in terms of performances and cinematography, but it’s not a cinematic experience that will blow your socks off by any means. In the end, I enjoyed the movie and probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if it was shorter.

13 comments:

  1. Aww, Ginger is one of my faves.
    You might like the EC style horror of the second movie better, though.

    But non of the Ginger movies will appeal to gorehounds, they are all pretty tame in that department, and the werewolf FX, well, they never really stand out in any of the three.

    Still, personally I enjoyed all three movies a lot, I think Katherine Isabelle/Emily Perkins have a great chemistry together, and bring a certain natural feeling to these outcast characters which I often tend to miss from other movies.

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  2. I remember watching this back when it came out. It intrigued me enough to want to check out the sequel, but not enough to where I actually went out and rented the sequel. Oh well.

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  3. I feel that all three of the Ginger Snaps pics are terrific additions to the sparsely populated werewolf genre- but each entry is a seperate sub-genre.

    The first film (structurally the weakest) is essentially a pitch-dark comedy, a coming of age story that applies lycanthropy to "the change" that all girls experience as they become women- B and Ginger don't want to deal with any of that- until it starts to happen to (Ginger) them. It is a bit over-long, with segments that drag a bit, but the sexualization of the werewolf mythos (and the venereal subplot with the first guy Ginger "spends time with") is fun stuff, different and fresh.

    The second movie is much darker- without the snarky humor of the first- but this fits, since B doesn't revel in the change the way Ginger did. One could argue that Ginger Snaps Back is more of a straight-forward horror film, with a degree of sexual abuse (and hiding from one's own sexuality) as the subtext within the werewolfery.

    The third film is sort of my favorite, mainly because it comes from left field- if you want a coherent reason for the 3rd Ginger Snaps film to be set in the 1830s, there isn't one. Oh, they throw out a sort of pseudo-mystical sop to an Indian prophecy about "the sisters of black and red" and blah-blah- but the real joy of Ginger Snaps: the Begining comes from watching what is essentially a Hammer Films variation on Ravenous- beautifully shot, lyrically dreamlike at times, with a solid cast and the best wolf effects of the series...

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  4. Haha I love the comparison of that shot to Jennifer's Body. They're exactly the same.

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  5. While the filmmaking itself does have an amateur look and feel, the originality and brilliant scripting more than make up for it in my mind. This is an all time fav, but I had to reread the first sentence in the post when I read that you havent seen it. Hence, the cover earning its rightful place in Lame Cover Art history!

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  6. Yeah, the cover art alone prevented me from seeing this movie. Definitely lame because I probably would have liked it better 9 years ago since I was actually a teenage girl (around 13) when it came out.

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  7. Uhmmm yeah not so much... I agree with the MEH in your review... the rest... well its a little nice to a boring film that could have been a 15 minute short, which i most likely would have laughed at and walked out on... but hey i mostly made it (between falling asleep out of sheer boredom)through this one. Wouldn't accept it into any genre, maybe teenage angst and whiny little girl should be genre for this one.

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  8. I think the real force behind this movie - which Becky pointed out - is stacking it up against the other films being released at the time. Look at the list from 2000 (http://www.filmsandtv.com/genre.php?gs=2000Horror) Leprechaun in the Hood? Scream 3? Dracula 2000 (I've still not been reimbursed for that travesty)?

    Ginger Snaps struck a chord with more than a few people (myself included) because it was a different beast and a stand out amongst a lot of the mediocrity that came shivering out of film canisters post-Y2K.

    It's not a perfect film in any sense - better films have come along since - but it's good for killing off a couple hours on a Friday night. I'd certainly reach for it before Hollow Man.

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  9. not bad for a horror trilogy and I think it delivered female characters that weren't just fodder for gratuitous T&A and/or body bags. Horror films need more of that. I mean when was the last time you saw a cool werewolf movie when this came out? Besides DOG SOLDIERS...

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  10. the posturing (and admittedly rather irritating) little popinjayNovember 15, 2009 at 7:33 AM

    Katherine Isabelle is starting to look like Bette Davis (not a good sign).

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  11. What the hell?? Why they had to picked ideas from this Canadian film to made "Jennifer's body"??
    Shame on "Jennifer's body"!!!!!!!!!!!!(I mean f#ck this film!)

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  12. FUCK "Jennifer's body"! Bunch of stupid crew who cannot find their own ideas! Shame on them! I sh!t on this film!

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  13. Great review. Personally, this movie didn't do it for me. I get that some people enjoy it because of the analogy to puberty and the unique female roles. But I watched this movie to see a horror werewolf movie and it did not deliver.

    If you get the chance, you should check out my review. I can always use more feedback.

    http://horrormoviemedication.blogspot.com/2013/03/ginger-snaps-werewolves-during-that.html

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