Monday, March 4, 2013

Ginger Snaps - Werewolves during That Time of the Month


Click here for a SPOILER-FREE REVIEW


Plot
Except for a few mangled dogs, Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald live in happy suburbia. These two teenage girls, with a love of the macabre, stage several gory deaths for a school project. The girl's antisocial behavior and morbid interests make them high school outsiders. After a scuffle with the highschool's hottie Trina, they decided to kidnap her dog.


On their way to dog-nap, they find the mutilated corpse of another dog. Brigitte notices Ginger is bleeding from her first period (gross). Then the Beast of Bailey Downs (a werewolf)  attacks, and drags Ginger into the woods screaming. Brigitte rescues Ginger. As the sisters flee, they narrowly escape being hit by an approaching van, which does hit and kill the Beast. Since Ginger's wounds are healing, the girls decided to stay silent about the whole affair.


After a few days, Ginger starts becoming more wolf-like and has unprotected sex with Jason. She finishes off the night by killing a neighbor's dog. Frightened by what is happening to Ginger, Brigitte turns to Sam. Sam was the guy driving the van and is an amateur drug dealer/lycanthrope expert. Sam suggests monkshood, a special flower, as a solution for Ginger's illness. Problem is that monkshood only grows during spring.


Later, Trina goes to the Fitzgerald house claiming Ginger kidnapped her dog. As Ginger and Trina fight, Trina slips, hitting her head on the corner of the kitchen counter, and dies. The sisters narrowly cover up the crime scene and bury the body in the yard. Brigitte doesn't want Ginger going out anymore.


On Halloween, Brigitte takes her mother's monkshood, which was purchased from a craft store, to Sam. They make the cure and fate permits Brigitte to test it out on a werewolf Jason. She witnesses his immediate change in behavior, which proves the cure's success.


Brigitte finds Ginger at school, in the office, with a dead guidance councilor. Brigitte calms Ginger down, and goes to find cleaning supplies, but returns to see the janitor with his throat torn open. Ginger runs off to find Sam. Brigitte follows to find Sam rejecting Ginger's advances. In despair, Brigitte infects herself as Sam pleads with her not to. As the sisters leave, Sam knocks Ginger out with a shovel. Brigitte and Sam then take her back to the Fitzgerald house in his van, and prepare more of the cure for Ginger.


Ginger fully transforms into a werewolf on the way home and escapes the van. Aware that she has transformed, Sam and Brigitte hide in the pantry as he makes the cure. The Ginger-Wolf gets hold of Sam and kills him. Brigitte with the cure-filled syringe, follows the blood trail downstairs. She tries to drink Sam's blood in an attempt to calm Ginger-Wolf, but it doesn't work. Bridgette ends up stabbing Ginger with a knife by accident. Some sobs, and then it's credits.



The Good, the Bad, and the Gory

The Good
Unique Angle
I often make the cases that women in horror movies are portrayed as some of the most empowered women in all of cinema. I mean, at least one women always survives by killing the evil monster herself. That's empowerment. But that being said, these surviving women are usually dainty, quite, pure girls who call up untapped strength and courage. Rarely do you find a horror flick with strong, confident, women full of attitude. Well welcome Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald.

Ginger Snaps gives us a much needed heroin. The Fitzgerald sisters are Gothic, morbid, counter-culture, teens looking to stand out from the crowd. With a suicide pack and hobby of faking their own deaths, any other horror movie would have killed off these two in the first 15 mins. But instead we get to follow the strength of sisterly bonds through crisis. It's interesting to watch how crisis draws the girls together and how changing personalities drive them apart.

This film is a great look at dynamic and changing characters. Ginger transforms physically and emotionally as she becomes a werewolf, but we also get to see Bridgitt's journey as she becomes bolder and more confident trying to help her sister. It's a great study in personality. And a study in hardcore high school chicks.

Puberty Analogy
Ok. I'm a guy and even with the exposure a house full of sisters gave me, I still get grossed out by monthly lady issues. On top of that I just watched Carrie so I'm sick of watching teenage girls get their period. *Throws hands up* I'm out.

But despite my personal ick-factor, I have to acknowledge that Ginger Snaps takes a crack at a very universal milestone in life. One of the reason so many movies are made about teenagers and high school is because it's a dramatic period of change. Perfect drama for any story. But this movie takes it to a new level. We see how Ginger enters womanhood and wolfhood at the same time and how the changes of each affect her. She goes from an outcast to the high school sex idol. She  pushes away from her sister and family as she tries to understand her new self full of urges and impulses (the impulses to mutilate dogs that is). Most anyone can relate to the themes of personal change in this movie.

The Acting
I almost put this section under The Bad because of Emily Perkins (Bridgitt). Personally, I think she is one of the most homely girls I've ever seen. In general it is a bad idea to make your lead someone unappealing to look at. She didn't even get the customary ugly duckling to swan transformation. That would have helped a lot.

Also, I felt that the Bridgett character was rather stale. But I don't hold this against Emily Perkins because I think the director wanted it this way. He didn't let her develop and grow in her expression over the course of the movie. Seriously, it was like she had three pre-set faces she cycled through the entire movie.

But Kathrine Isabelle (Ginger) was a top notch actor. Made a dynamic and believable character. Plus she was hot.

Behind the Scenes


The Bad
The Split Plot
I think there are two standard ways most people would look at this movie. As a teen movie and as a werewolf movie. Sadly, it fails on both accounts. As a teen movie, I wanted a better look into the high school. There could have been a ton more story if we were introduced to more teachers, students, social structure, etc. I think all we meet really are two students and a guidance counselor. A missed opportunity.

Werewolf movies have a stigma for their generally poor quality, and this flick sadly renforces that stereotype. The werewolf attack is cool, done in classic flashing, non-reveiling shots. But then we proceed to see no werewolf until the final 15 mins. Come on. Ya gotta give me something. Plus Ginger Snaps is completly devoid of the classic werewolf transformation scene.

I don't mind the non-traditional werewolf ethos (no silver, no full moon, virus based) but I do mind the fact that werewolves are nowhere to be seen.

The Soundtrack
At one point I could have sworn they played the background from PBS's Wishbone

The Gory
To sum up, the gore, make up, action, puppets, and werewolf are all terrible. Some of the 'fake deaths' the girls make for a school project are cool, but everything else sucks. There isn't much action to give you any good gore. Ginger rips up a dog, but all the gore is really saved for the last 20 mins or so. One character gets chewed up pretty good, but you don't even realize it because you are watching the terrible excuse for a werewolf.

For a period of Ginger's slow transformation she looks more like a Klingon from StarTrek. But eventually Ginger transforms into a werewolf. And by werewolf I mean a puppet of a a balding bear with down's syndrome. It looks fake, weird, and just wrong in general.

What crap is that! 


My Take on it All
While this movie was a unique attempt on a werewolf movie, it wasn't good enough to redeem it from the horror landfill of B-reel movies.

Ginger Snaps is a great choice for the strong, independent women who loves horror. It is a story of teenage puberty and angst set against the backdrop of a werewolf flick.

Ginger Snaps is a terrible choice for anyone wanting a werewolf movie. Now I know that when it comes to werewolf movies, beggars can't be choosers, but just skip this one. You won't get much gore or action, and you certainly won't get a cool looking werewolf. It's a lot of movie to sit through for 15 mins of action. Skip. 

Ginger Snaps follows the teenage Fitzgerald sisters as they turn from girls into women and into a werewolf. It's a cool film if you enjoy analogies to female puberty and empowered  Gothic girls. But I you like werewolf movies, you'll be nothing but disappointed watching this flick. With bad effects and almost no action, there are hardly any scares in this movie at all. I say skip.


Final Grade: C

Trailer

10 comments:

  1. Good review and like seeing a male insight to kind of a female oriented movie.

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  2. I liked your review. Very well thought out and explained in such a cool tone.

    I noticed Ginger is on Syfy's Being Human..as of yet I haven't seen much of her. She plays when the witch goes young after eating the dust of the ghosts. Dunno if we'll see much of her this season on the show.

    What are your feelings on Being Human. I can just bet its not enough gore for you.

    All the best to your blog and your reviews!

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    1. I don't follow Being Human, but I might be convinced into it. Seems like there is a lot of room for drama and some comedy in it. One weekend, when I'm feeling particularly dramatic, I'll que it up on Netflix.

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  3. Thanks so much for your comment.

    This was great to read your view on the movie. So what is your favorite horror flicks? I guess I'll be back to find out.

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  4. Well-written review; articulate and opinionated.
    But I disagree; this is one of the best teenage-themed horror movies of the past twenty years. Excellent screenplay. Both actors deliver brilliantly; such a contrast to each other, both in physicality and behaviour, exhibiting the true nuances of adolescent fragility, defensive sarcasm, and projected drollness (the high school project is inspired). This is a clever play on the horror of feminine beauty, or is that the beauty of feminine horror ...?
    This is a movie that gets better each time you watch it. Perhaps you need to give it another go in a year or two.
    Personally I love the old school special effects. If the movie was made now it would have been drenched in CGI and wouldn't be half as interesting to watch.
    The sequel: Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed is very good also. But forget about the third one.

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    1. I agree with ya on the special effects. I'm a big supporter of rubber puppets and corn starch blood. But I didn't think Ginger Snaps pulled it off. It's hard to watch Dog Soldiers or the Howling and come back and say, "Ginger Snaps has the coolest werewolf ever!" But maybe I will give it another shot down the road. In the spirit of complete-ness I'm gonna watch the sequels. wish me luck.

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  5. Yeah I liked this film but it does have some issues that hold it back from being a great movie. My chief complaint is that terrible werewolf design. I mean Dog Soldiers was made on about the same budget, maybe less, and it looks 10 times better. They must have know if didn't look good. Why didn't they try and keep it in the shadows more?

    I agree Emily Perkins was a little stiff as Brigitte but she gives a much better performance in the sequel. I'd almost say that I prefer the sequel to the original but even that has a strange ending.

    Also want to add that Mimi Rogers was excellent as the mum. I love the way at the end she calmly tells Brigitte that she's going to burn the house down and run away with them!

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  6. Watching Carrie and Ginger Snaps in quick succession. Yeah thats way too much crimson surfing for anyone to deal with!

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  7. Well done. Our opinion differs in a couple of places, but there are points we agree on.

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  8. Emily Perkins as Brigitte IS the star of the first two parts (like everyone else said, forget about the absolutely horrible prequel/part 3). In Part One she's the Final Girl - comes across as much stronger than Ginger. Part Two is built around her, and she shows just what a terrific actress she is.

    There's no werewolf transformation scene because...this isn't the kind of werewolf which changes in two minutes at the full moon and back again. The franchise has werewolves which change gradually, over weeks, and where the transformation is irreversible.

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