Ginger Snaps

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Movie Reviews by EDF and Lisa Henshall

Starring: Emily Perkins, Katherine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers
Director: John Fawcett

Review by EDF

In the last five years, one of the masters of horror, Wes Craven, along with Hollywood, has managed to turn the horror genre into a laughable farce. You don’t really need me to point a finger at the movies in question; we all know which ones they are. Whereas before a horror movie would scare you and show gross-out scenes that would have you talking for ages, it’s turned into comedy-horror –
until now, that is. Here comes, probably, the first best horror-comedy movie of the 21 st century – GINGER SNAPS.

Following the exploits of the sisters of Goth, the Fitzgerald sisters – Brigitte and Ginger (Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle) – have a worryingly morbid fascination with death. They attend their local school and extend their weirdness into the classroom, including a photographic project depicting them in a number horrible ways one could die, including the classic death by lawnmower. While the photos shock their teacher, the sisters are not really bothered by what other people think of their actions.

The sisters act like they are joined at the hip. Brigitte, who is a year younger, moved up a school year to be with Ginger. While the boys fantasise about what the sisters would be like, the girls scorn them for being freaks.

While roaming around town one night, bent on revenge against one of the school’s pretty girls by photographing the fake death of her dog, they come across the dog in the park already dead, spliced open. All of a sudden there is blood trickling down Ginger’s leg – she’s now having her very first period. Fearing the worst when they hear something moving in the bushes, they start to leave when suddenly Ginger is dragged away by something possessing fierce strength and speed. Brigitte eventually saves Ginger by using the flash on her camera. As they escape, the werewolf follows them and is knocked down and killed by the surprised local drug dealer Sam (Kris Lemche). The sisters scamper off into the night.

Back in their bedroom, Brigitte sees to Ginger’s severe wounds, which heal up very quickly. There is now a change in Ginger’s behaviour. She cannot stay awake in class and is now interested in men spending less time with Brigitte, even ignoring her at times. Brigitte finds out that the owner of the van from the previous night was Sam and questions him about what he remembers seeing. Confirming her own fears that it was a werewolf, Sam who fancies Brigitte, agrees to help her find a cure when she tells him that she was the one who had been bitten by the werewolf. Sam goes off to check some reference books for a cure because the creature wasn’t killed by a silver bullet but by a speeding truck.

During the middle of the night, Brigitte goes over to a sleeping Ginger and discovers a tail growing. To stop it being discovered, Brigitte helps Ginger tie the wagging tail to her leg. Meanwhile their oh-so-righteous mother Pamela (Mimi Rogers) notices some change within the girls and tries to get them to speak to her. As with most parent/child relationships, they keep quiet while receiving some hilarious advice from their mother. As the next full moon approaches, Ginger’s behaviour gets out of hand and Brigitte knows she has to take control of the situation or fear losing her sister.

Why does this movie work? Well, first of all, you can identify with the characters. You could easily change the character’s names, because these characters will remind you of someone you went to school with. This movie does not rely on previous werewolf folklore and makes up its own rules that are more logical than convenient. As well as this, GINGER SNAPS is more about growing up during your teenage years and the first steps to becoming an adult, than about a hairy monster howling at the moon after a successful kill. Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle are fantastic as the sisters with a secret pact to either die or leave the town before they reach the age of 16 – and who amongst you haven’t felt that way in your teen years? Exactly. With Mimi Rogers giving a star performance as the know-it-all mother, this movie is equal in laughs, scares and gore. Highly enjoyable!

5 out of 6 stars


Review by Lisa Henshall

This has to be the best film of the year thus far, which means that instead of the usual mainstream I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER type of flick, we have a film with a deeper, darker, intelligent side. A truly inspired, sharp, brilliantly scripted, insightful, black-comedy horror which comes across somewhere between a female AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and a sick and twisted BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

GINGER SNAPS follows the story of Brigitte and her older sister Ginger who are the school ‘weirdos’ preferring their own company, dressing mainly in black and not caring about what boys think (or anyone else for that matter). At the ages of 15 and 16 respectively, their mother (a wonderfully deranged Mimi Rogers) is starting to worry that they haven’t yet ‘developed’ into real women. The girls do not want to become women and long to stay as they are passing their time devising highly realistic staged deaths and photographing themselves, surrounded by fake blood and guts, for their school project – which greatly disturbs their teacher, who worries about their sanity. At the same time, a mad ‘dog’ appears to be on the loose, dismembering and killing local pets.

While out late one night collecting animal remains to use in another staged death, Ginger is attacked by the ‘dog’, which turns out to be a large and vicious beast. Brigitte manages to get her sister back to the house to treat her wounds but Ginger is already starting to change and the claw marks on her shoulders have started to heal. Brigitte knows what she saw but is afraid to say anything and wants to stay loyal to her sister. However, as each day goes by Ginger is ‘developing’ as a real woman, but also into something else…something not human.

If you liked the SCREAM series you will love the mixture of comedy and graphic violence and there are some really chilling moments of jump-out-of-your-seat terror. The film can be viewed as a quirky tale of modern-day werewolves, but in addition, as a result of the intelligent, beautifully crafted script, the two sisters are sympathetic characters and the tale can also be seen as an allegory for the frightening changes experienced by teenage girls on the brink of womanhood.

The werewolf effects towards the end of the film aren’t quite as good as I would have hoped (although I haven’t yet seen a film with a decent looking werewolf) and so they do detract slightly from the tension that’s been building up, but even this can’t stop the film being anything less than fantastic! Guys should not be put off by the fact that the main characters are female, as this film is definitely for ALL horror fans, but should of course be avoided by the squeamish or those of a nervous disposition.

5 out of 6 stars