Ginger Snaps is about sixteen year old Ginger and her fifteen year old sister Bridgette, two morbid, outcast, high-school students who spend their free time faking their own death and taking pictures of it.
At least they have a sense of humor about it.
The two of them are already appropriately miserable, snarky teens, when one night Ginger ends up being attacked by a very large canine. The two of them manage to get away and the creature is conveniently killed by a passing motorist, but it doesn’t take them long to realize that Ginger’s wounds shouldn’t heal that fast.
Bridgette is the first to realize the truth, and though her sister is initially in denial, she too begins to realize that something is horribly wrong.
As the next full moon approaches it’s up to Bridgette to figure out a way to help her increasingly out of control sister before it’s too late.
I don’t know about this puberty thing. No one ever mentioned anything about an urge to eat the neighbors dog.
Being focused on teenagers, Ginger Snaps is chock full of coming of age metaphors. On the night that the girls are attacked Ginger gets her first period and the filmmakers spend no small amount of time making sure you remember that and link it to the ‘other’ changes Ginger is going through. And it’s not so much subtley suggested as rubbed into the viewers face while the fat kid in school sits on you and laughs as you flounder in the dirt trying to get away. So not only does poor Ginger have to go through the slow process of changing into a werewolf, but she also has to go through the horrors of puberty as well. Gee, swell.
Not to mention the horrors of traversing the feminine hygiene product isle.
For the most part, the other horrors of the film are left up to the viewer’s imagination. The movie utilizes the tried and true method of using the power of suggestion, or the ‘what you don’t see is more horrifying than what you do see’ method, to good effect here.
While heavy on the blood the film is surprisingly light on the gore, considering what’s going on, and most action occurs just off camera.
Oh, ew, where the hell did you even stick tha-…On second thought, I don’t want to know.
This was an excellent decision, since a large number of the special effects aren’t that great. The werewolf build-up, what should have been the high points of the film, start looking a little too fake the further along the film gets. Ginger looks fine when she’s growing random spurts of hair and fangs, but the closer she gets to the full moon the less she looks like a werewolf and the more she starts looking like a silicone-y model.
And a bit like a Klingon.
But the effects really aren’t the focus of the film. The focus is the characters and the relationship between the sisters, and in that respect the filmmakers did a good job.
Ginger (Katherine Isabelle) and Bridgette (Emily Perkins) are close, and grow closer as the clock counts down. Both girls grown and change in different ways as the movie progresses and it’s interesting to watch how they’re both drawn together and ultimately apart by the looming crisis.
Most of the side characters are also interesting, especially Mimi Rogers as the ever-perky soccer mom, desperate to bond with her completely disinterested daughters. The woman is wonderfully and completely over the top and out of the loop, but you get a genuine sense that she cares about her children and that really helps make up for it.
Despite its graphical shortcomings Ginger Snaps is a great werewolf movie as well as a film about the plight of two teens trapped in dead-end (Canadian) suburbia. It’s self aware, filled with black comedy, has a witty script, and is a wonderful addition to the werewolf pantheon that allows Isabelle and Perkins to shine. I loves it.
Ginger Snaps is available on of streaming services.
It is also available on DVD and Bluray.