Director – John Fawcett
Cast – Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Jesse Moss, Danielle Hampton
Release Year – 2000
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Werewolf films have been done many times in the horror world, and are what I consider to be the “horror sibling” to vampire films. Both films involve the use of a bite to transfer the infection, and killing both werewolves and vampires require unorthodox methods; werewolves = silver, vampires = wooden stake to the heart/sunlight. Gingers Snaps provides a fresh look into the werewolf horror sub-genre and effectively uses the concept of puberty(which everyone can relate to) to portray the slow transformation into adulthood/werewolfism whether we like it or not.
This film follows two socially outcasted sisters named Ginger(Katharine Isabelle) and Bridget(Emily Perkins) who have an extreme fascination with death, and dying together before society gets the best of them and forces them to conform. The town they live in is being preyed upon by a creature that comes out at night and severely mutilates family pets that are out and about. A werewolf perhaps? One night while they are out getting revenge on a popular girl for her ignorant remarks towards the sisters, Ginger is attacked by a werewolf but manages to survive the incident with just a few cuts and scratches. Unfortunately for Ginger…it was enough to infect her and she soon finds herself transforming into a werewolf, putting all those around her in extreme(and gory) danger.
I really enjoyed writer Karen Walton’s take on the werewolf sub-genre and John Fawcett’s direction really sold this Canadian film to be the horror cult classic that it is. If you are a woman/girl/female then I highly suggest you view this film, as it has much to do with female puberty and how that correlates with a social “transformation”(just like a werewolf!). Karen Walton managed to work together two different plots in this film so beautifully that you are able to take them in as one, and all without the confusing elements so many other films give us with the “two plot” idea. What I enjoyed most about this film would have to be the very dark, gothic tone we see pretty much throughout the entire film. Right off the back we see how solemn and insecure the two sisters are which later on helps play into how Ginger deals with the “curse”(literally and figuratively), and with such a dark, gothic score…this film definitely get’s an A-Plus for use of atmosphere.
Ginger Snaps is also a fun watch, despite it’s dark nature and dialogue. This is mainly due to director John Fawcett’s use of a common element that livens up a film…GORE! Mr. Fawcett really dishes out the gore in this film, with the werewolf leaving dismembered and disemboweled family dogs lying on people’s yards and playgrounds as well as buckets of blood during scenes of unfortunate bystanders falling victim to Ginger’s urges. I also liked how he did not cop-out like so many other films and use CGI for his werewolf. All of the werewolf action in this film is live-action, and perfectly executed with great camera angles and awesome special effects work. Pretty impressive for a film that was never given a wide theatrical release here in the US eh?
The use of characters in this film was well done, and Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins really made names for themselves in the horror world with this film. Aside from this film’s two sequels(one is technically a “prequel”) both of the actresses went on to star in several other films. Katharine had roles in the horror films Bones, Carrie(2002), and Freddy vs. Jason and Emily has mainly done non horror films like Prozac Nation, Insomnia, and the overrated film Juno(haha!). Heck, you even get to see veteran actress Mimi Rogers in the role as Ginger and Bridgett’s sympathetic and overly-positive mother, who is pretty much the opposite of her two girls. The role of their father however, was a bit odd for me. I cannot understand if he was put in the film just to waste screen space(like many characters in films), or if he was purposely written to be so lame and uninterested in the girl’s lives as a way of saying “blame daddy for how the girl’s came out”. Who knows, it was pretty cool though to see actor Chris Lemke, who appeared in My Little Eye(which I have a review for) as the drug dealer and pseudo-hero in this film.
There is nothing I really do not like about this film, although I personally was not favoring the “Buffy” feel this flick gave me during a scene involving Ginger attending a high school party. I found it a bit cheesy it didn’t really represent the mood the rest of the film had, but maybe that’s just me and it was aimed at female cliques given that she went from social outcast to attending “popular” parties. Speaking of that…I also found that to be a great element in this film. How often are horror films written by women and attack issues women face as they grow up? Not very often, given most of the “issues” women normally face in horror films have to do with them trying to run faster from a masked killer.
Overall this is a great film that not only gives us a different perspective in the werewolf sub-genre, but has a good social message as well. Plus with no CGI and nothing but live-action gory werewolf carnage…how can you go wrong?
– I ranked this film #26 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade(21-30) post.