Retro Review: Ginger Snaps

Probably going to be regarded as one of the most interesting and terrifying werewolf films ever made. Have I got you attention yet?

Ginger Snaps” chronicles the tale of a misunderstood and pubescent teen girl named Ginger (played by new-comer Katherine Isabelle). Ginger is constantly struggling with her daft mother (Mimi Rogers) and her life at school. Her only real support is her bound with her younger sister, Brigitte (Emily Perkins).

One horrifying and fateful night, Ginger and her sister are attacked by a wild animal. Ginger is heavily brutalized and ravaged by the beast.

Eventually the animal leaves and is hit by an on-coming car. Brigitte helps her bloody sister back to their house where she tries to get her sister to a hospital but they realize that some of the wounds are healing by themselves. What has happened to Ginger and how will that dreadful night change the lives of these two sisters?

It’s hard to know where to start when describing the genius associated with this coming of age story mixed with gruesome horror. This film blends the two so seamless so that you believe that one is almost like the other.

The genius elements in this new take on the old horror concept lie in the subtle and very slow transformation brewing inside Ginger. The writing team of Karen Walton and director John Fawcett cross-link the situations with a girl becoming a woman and the transformation into the creature.

This hasn’t been tackled before and makes for brilliant drama. The subtly and reliance on the girls dialogue is key. One perfect example of this subtle brilliance is when Ginger and Brigitte go shopping for feminine hygiene products. The camera sits way below Brigitte’s waist and pans up as Brigitte seems to be overwhelmed by just how many tampons are actually on the drugstore shelves. This perfectly describes these poor girls and the two transformations going on within Ginger.

A lot of low budget horror films, you will find horrid special effects and heavy shadows. Director John Fawcett steers clear of those pitfalls and does include elements of “The Blair Witch Project”. This element is brilliantly executed in the scene where Ginger is brutally attacked. What is truly amazing is the horror the director creates before you even see the final Ginger. This is pure horror magic and really makes the film intense.

One final thing I have to state is that the creature in the end of the film is definitely worth the wait and for such a small budget it is pulled off great.

The gothic kindred bond between sisters is priceless as these relative new-comers embrace the dialogue with interesting passion. Each actress has a great scope to play off and it is amazing to see these fine actresses work. Isabelle’s handling of Ginger’s transformation and wrestling with her inner turmoil is utterly brilliant. What could be the less noticed performance is that of Perkins’ tortured Brigitte. Perkins range from very subtle to manic as we follow Brigitte’s struggle was the better of the two leads.

Throughout this whole film, I got a little squeamish because of how much blood is exactly used here and that is quite the understatement. Aside from that the only small negative I have to say is that for me the end really never dealt with the mother and her story. What happens to her and why wasn’t she an intricate part of the finale? I found this plot element to leave me asking questions.

Ginger Snaps is one of the most clever and interesting werewolf films to be made in the past ten years. I easily rate it as one of my Top 5 greatest werewolf films of all time. Snaps pushed out 1975’s “Legend of the Werewolf” from my Top 5. Forget the Mummy, this is the film to see.

4.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

Soothsayer’s Top 5 Werewolf Films

5. The Howling
4. Silver Bullet
3. Ginger Snaps
2. The Wolfman (1941)
1. American Werewolf in London

What’s your favorite werewolf movie?

Final Note: This isn’t often mentioned when talking about werewolf lore in film but a brilliant example of using the lycanthrope myth was in the 1987 Fox television series, “Werewolf” which only lasted one season during the Fox network’s infancy. If you know where we as werewolf fans can purchase these episodes or learn more about this series please email me back. Lets do our best to allow others to witness this long dead and forgotten series. Other lost Fox television treasures besides “Werewolf” include “Profit”, and “Kindred: the Embraced”.

4 thoughts on “Retro Review: Ginger Snaps

  1. okay i must say i love the film and i love what you have writtin about it because most people find it scary not just because theres a huge wolf growing inside of her and everyday she grows farther away from her sister while growing closer to killing her but about what you said about there mother, well they said it from the beginning its not about there parents or even there classmates its about these two sisters, one turning into a monster, ofcourse translated into a women at the same time the other stuck in childhood and trying to hold onto her sister and what they had and in a sick and twisted kind of way, as shown in back to the beginning, she craves her sisters company without the red there is no black, sisters united against the world as we know it, it would be very nice to know what happens with there mother knowing somehow one of her daughters is dead and the other one has completely fanished possibly dead too and leaving her husband and im sure she tried to find brigette maybe thats one of the reasons she was living in a motel room but in the end nobody else matters its about the red and the black they are sopposed to kill eachother one or the other its pre-destined but the bond between sisters between friends as close as they were not even destiny or fate could make them hurt a hair on the others head they couldnt bare that pain, but Brigette loved her mother, but in the end protecting her by loosing her was the only option

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