Trivia The role of Ginger was originally offered to Natasha Lyonne (American Pie 1 & 2)) and Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead remake), but they both turned it down.
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Ginger Snaps (2000)
18th Apr 04
Ginger and Brigitte are two teenage sisters on the brink of (late) puberty. Alienated at school due to their morbid obsessions (they regularly stage photo-sessions of their own faked deaths), events take a turn in their lives the night they encounter a wild beast at night.
Ginger is attacked and bitten, but survives. She heals quickly, but when she starts growing sharp teeth and a tail, Brigitte begins to suspect that her sister may be turning into a werewolf. As Ginger’s bloodlust grows, Brigitte enlists the help of her friend Sam, in an effort to save her sister’s life.
Review Ginger Snaps is one of those little independent horror films that occasionally pop up to snap at your heels. One of those films you never really expect to be any good, but as soon as you sit down to watch them, they grab you by the throat and shake and tear at you until your forced to enjoy them.
Any werewolf movie ever made has to stand comparison (for me) to An American Werewolf in London. What made that film so genre defining was the darkly humorous horror of watching a man know that he was turning into a monster. The human fear of body-change, and of regression to animal state. It was a convention I was hoping to see in Ginger Snaps (especially as it was from the original viewpoint of two teenage sisters) and I am happy to say Ginger Snaps delivered (of sorts).
The opening credits sequence is one of the best seen since Se7en as it introduces our two young heroines staging their own ‘faked’ deaths and taking grisly photographs of each other. Emily Perkins (Brigitte) and Katharine Isabelle (Ginger) are perfectly cast as the two young girls on the brink of puberty. They manage to convince as the two ‘out-of-sorts’ sisters who are forever bound to each other, but when Ginger finally receives her first menstruation, we know things are going to change
There is a heavy use of dogs as symbolism in this film (a dog dies in the first scene, Brigitte falls on a dead dog in a hockey game) so it is no surprise when the attack finally comes as the girls find a dead dog searching the woods at night. Shocking though the initial attack is, it’s the after-affect that really hits home, not only in the physical sense, but also as Ginger’s personality changes into a more sexually-charged ‘animalistic’ character, forcing a split with her sister.
The film treads a thin line between black comedy / horror and tragedy, and largely pulls it off (the scene when the girls are forced to hide a dead body in the freezer when their parents come home early is darkly hilarious). There is genuine concern too as we watch the two girls trying to come to terms with the fact something that is tearing them apart that is almost beyond their control.
There are plenty of inspired and original moments; Ginger trying to conceal a tail that has started to grow from her body, frozen fingers are found on their lawn. The direction is slick, (perhaps a dab over-glossy) and there are one or two genuine scares.
However after it’s brilliantly staged opening, the film lapses into too many Hollywood clichés. All too conveniently there is a rebel hunk nearby acting as a possible love-interest / victim / hero (he happens to know about growing Marijuana and the werewolf cure – Monkswood). Throw in a party on Halloween, underdeveloped ‘standard US school kid’ characters, and the road leading up to the end begins to feel a little too familiar.
Luckily it does rescue itself in the last ten minutes, as it leads to a satisfying climax. A good solid film then, that manages to maintain a lot if its independence and originality, but a little disappointing after such a bold and adventurous opening. Inevitably it has started a franchise with parts 2 and 3 (shot back-to-back) both coming out later this year.
Versions The film is uncut, although the Canadian DVD has deleted scenes.