GINGER SNAPS (2000)
Canadian horror opens in the prefab suburban neighborhood of Bailey Downs where some kind of wild animal dubbed the “Beast Of Bailey Downs” is killing the local dogs. But Bailey Downs is also home to the emotionally troubled teenage Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins). The two sisters have a bizarre fascination with death, they recreate death scenes and photograph themselves in different methods of demise, as well as have a suicide pact. But the older Ginger is starting her menstrual cycle and when the sisters are out one night looking to kidnap the dog of local mean girl, Trina (Danielle Hampton), Ginger has her period and the blood attracts The Beast, a wolf-like creature that attacks and savages her before it’s run over in pursuit of the girls by local drug dealer, Sam (Kris Lemche). But Ginger’s wounds start to heal soon after and within days her behavior starts to become more and more aggressive and the anti-social Ginger starts transforming into a flirtatious high school vamp. But an increased sexual libido and interest in boys isn’t the only thing growing as she is also starting to sprout thick hair in interesting places and a tail…not to mention she’s developed an appetite for the neighborhood dogs. Now Brigitte fears for her sister and turns to Sam, the only other witness to have seen the Beast, to try to help her save Ginger from becoming a monster. But as Ginger’s behavior becomes more and more dangerous and her nails and teeth are starting to grow and sharpen, will it be Brigitte and Sam that need saving?
Director John Fawcett, who co-wrote along with Karen Walton, creates a moody and sometimes gruesome tale that uses lycanthropy as an obvious metaphor for coming of age and the development of sexual urges, but despite the obviousness, he works it quite well into his horror flick that not only reminds us of the confusion of our teens, but provides plenty of chills and thrills as well. He populates his flick with characters that come across as real teens and not caricatures and only the sisters’ parents (Mimi Rogers and John Bourgeois) seem to be more your stereotypical, clueless adults, but it serves the story to have them oblivious to Ginger’s changes with mom happily babbling about how her daughter is a woman now and dad not wanting to hear about all the ‘bloody’ details.
Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins both really come through and give good performances as they basically carry the movie. Both women portray their respective transformations appropriately with Isabelle going from angry Goth girl to sexual predator to monster quite well, giving Ginger both an air of danger ready to explode and a sympathetic sadness of a young girl who’s becoming something that’s beyond her control. Perkins takes the shy girl used to hiding behind her more protective big sister, and turns her into a strong willed young woman ready to both fight the monster her sister is becoming, but at the same time, save her as she’s not willing to give up on her despite Ginger’s increasing homicidal tendencies. A major part of why the film works is because of the performances Fawcett gets out of his leading ladies. Add to that his mix of teen angst movie and bloody horror flick with a dash of satiric humor and you get a very underrated flick that is considered a cult classic by many…myself included.
Ginger Snaps is not perfect, it’s slow paced at times and while that gives time for character development, it also takes it a while to get to it’s tense and bloody last act. The make-up FX are a little rubbery, but I still prefer the practical approach over CGI any day.
A sadly overlooked and underrated horror flick that deserves better attention and a proper blu-ray release. UPDATE: The awesome folks at Scream Factory are releasing this on blu-ray on 7/22/14! Here’s my review of this great disc!
Also check out my look at the sequels and Katherine Isabelle in her latest role as the title character in the 2013 original horror thriller American Mary! and click on her name above for our Halloween Hotties focus on this beautiful and talented actress!
3 and 1/2 sexy she-wolves!