Directed by John Fawcett who also co-wrote it with Karen Walton, Ginger Snaps is a werewolf horror that focuses on two sisters.
Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger Fitzgerald (Katherine Isabelle) are teenage girls fascinated with death. They dress in dark clothing, are at odds with the popular kids at school and like to stage gruesome deaths for photographs. The girls are the living embodiment of the stereotypical goth without the obsession with The Cure or Sisters of Mercy.
The girls live in the small town of Bailey Downs where a rash of animal killings has been occurring. The thing responsible? A werewolf. One that attacks the girls when it seemingly smells the blood from Ginger’s first period.
Ginger is bitten by the werewolf but Brigitte rescues her. The pair flee pursed by it but it is killed by the speeding van of Sam Miller (Kris Lemche). The girls run back home and decide to keep the incident quiet as Ginger’s wound begins to heal quickly.
If you’ve seen any werewolf horror ever, you know what this means.
Ginger begins to change, subtle at first as she becomes more confident and aggressive. She becomes more promiscuous and begins to clash with her sister. Bridgette sees these changes and is worried, even more so when the changes become more physical. Hair growing out of her would, sprouting a tail, teeth sharpening…all things to be concerned about.
She becomes convinced that Ginger is becoming a werewolf and seeks out Sam who doesn’t exactly take much convincing regarding the existence of the fabled creatures. Together they devise a plan to try and save Ginger but they’ll need to act quick. As Ginger’s transformation is becoming more and more obvious and her aggression is increasing to the point of murder.
Ginger Snaps is a great movie. It has dark humour, gory visuals, classy acting and practical effects. Something that really pleases the horror fan in me. It’s not a movie that takes itself too seriously, something that is wise considering its subject matter. Werewolves aren’t exactly well known for being a great subject in horror so it’s always best to have a tongue in cheek approach.
The stars of the movie are the two girls and Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle play their roles well and have great chemistry. The latter with some real gusto as she begins to transform. However, Perkins’ Bridgette is the better of the two mainly because she is so likeable. She’ll do anything to save her sister and the pain that is etched across her face as things get darker and darker is impressive.
It’s a shame that they’re the only two that stand out though from a cast that is pretty large. We have so many sterotypes to wade through. Such as the disinterested father, the prissy teacher, the horn-dog male teens, the female bullies, the older and cooler drug dealer etc. They’re all there and all extremely present.
The other obvious flaw is the poor handling of lycanthropy being used as a puberty metaphor. It’s just not subtle enough and Ginger might as well be walking around with a sign over head saying puberty = changing bodies…get it!?
These flaws can be overlooked though in favour of what Ginger Snaps does right. Enjoy the well told and paced story, the plentiful gore and practical effects. The latter gives us a really gruesome werewolf transformation scene. It’s not going to top An American Werewolf in London, how could it? But it does fall into the better werewolf horror movie camp.