Ginger Snaps review by The Grim Ringler

Ginger Snaps

Bailey Downs is a nice place to live. The houses are all penned into their yards, the kids all look the same, everything is in its place, and everything is a little slice of suburban bliss. Which is why the Fitzgerald sisters hate it. They epitomize everything that Bailey Downs is not and hates – they are individuals, are bright black shining stars of doom and gloom that seem to live to hate. And hate they do. Everything but each other. And together they make sort of Wonder Twins of gloom. Ginger, the older and stronger sister, always takes the lead and watches over younger Brigitte as if she were her mother. And together they are miserably happy, going so far as to make a pact to die together, and young, rather than become the faceless mass that they see every day.

But there is a monster in Bailey Downs, a killer dog that is feeding off of the local puppy dogs and has become a dark shadow over the tiny little suburban bliss they all once knew. Unfortunately for the Fitz twins, one fateful night, on a mission to convince a school bully that her dog has been eaten by the mean old midnight dog-muncher, they run afoul of said beastie and find out it is more than a killer dog. Far more. The creature mauls Ginger but she and Brigitte manage to escape when a van ends the miserable life of the monster as it was in pursuit of them. Ginger’s wounds are deep and look as if she should die from them but mysteriously they begin to heal almost immediately and so they keep their encounter to themselves and try to let life go on as normal. But Ginger is different now, and each day she begins to change more and more. She becomes more sexual, more lustful, more pack-like, wanting to be with others suddenly, leaving Brigitte behind. Watching her is like watching an animal seeking a mate, she finds a pack, she finds the strongest of them, and she seduces him. And suddenly Brigitte is alone. But not quite as someone also knows what is happening to Ginger and what she is becoming, the man that was driving the van that saved them, a local drug dealer with more than a passing interest in things that go howl in the night. And so they begin to search, Brigitte and her new friend, for what they hope for a cure, hoping beyond hope they can be in time to save Ginger from what she is becoming, or perhaps what she already is.

Who woulda thunk it? A post-modern feminist horror film? A film where two very smart, very different, very dark girls are the center of attention and it isn’t about how they are evil witches, or how the devil is making them do bad things. This is the movie you can show to women and say – see, they aren’t all trying to make women the victims. This movie is the horror film version of Ghost World, which is another film about teenage girls that feel themselves outcast and forced into a world that doesn’t seem to want them. This film is as much about what it means to be a teenage girl, a sister, and to go through puberty, as it is about werewolves and mutilated bodies.

And the hell of it is that this is a great film. Easily the best werewolf film in literally AGES. The subtext is there – sisterhood, PMS, sexuality and transformation – but if you don’t want to see it then you don’t have to. The movie works that freakin’ well. This movie is what most werewolf movies try to be but fail at being – a film about what it is to lose yourself to the beast, to lust, and how sometimes you don’t want to be what you were before. Sometimes the beast is better.

Emily Perkins, who plays Brigitte Fitzgerald, and Katharine Isabelle as Ginger are nothing short of amazing. In this, they are sisters. You believe that Brigitte and Ginger will do anything it takes to be together, and will truly do almost anything for one another. And the rest of the cast ain’t bad either, especially Mimi Rogers as the girls’ odd mother that loves her girls, despite how odd they have become to her.

The bad part about this movie is that we Americans were screwed royally in its release. So if you want this movie, and you should, you have to look for it. The American release DVD is as barebones as it gets and is even full-screen, further showing how little movies like this are lost on us all too often. Yet the Canadian DVD, which, it being a Canadian movie, this makes sense, is LOADED. If you get the Canadian DVD you get – two commentaries (both good, both informative), a TON of deleted scenes, a featurette, cast auditions, trailers, a stills gallery, and some other odds and ends. And the film is as it should be, in widescreen! How we got screwed this bad I will never know, but you can find the DVD. I found it on Yahoo’s Used stuff site. But believe me, it is worth the time to find it on DVD in the Collector’s Edition.

I cannot say enough good about this film – it is dark, tragic, and as beautiful as the lead actresses, and I can gladly say is one of the best werewolf films made in at least a decade. A great werewolf movie, and an even better look at the dynamics of sisterhood and being a freak. I cannot recommend this film enough, it’s nice to see that in a world of sequels and re-treads a new, thoughtful, scary movie can still sneak through once in a while.

9 out of 10 Jackasses

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