31 Days of Horror Movies | Day Five: Ginger Snaps
And we’re back to werewolves! Sorry. This won’t be the last foray into lycanthropy on this list, either. Look, just don’t be surprised when four or five more werewolf movie reviews pop up later in the month, is all I’m saying.
This movie combines three things I love: Horror movies, Canada, and using werewolves as metaphors. I’m a big fan of a werewolf movie using the werewolf as a metaphor for humanity. Every werewolf story, depending on how deeply you look, and whether or not it was the intention of its writer, is a metaphor for human nature in some degree. But one movie took that idea and ran with it in a direction you might not expect: Womanhood.
When you think about it, using a werewolf movie to demonstrate the delicate nature of a young lady blossoming into womanhood makes a lot of sense. Both scenarios are about a huge change that happens gradually over time, both scenarios happen once a month, and both scenarios involve a lot of blood.
I know, it sounds ridiculous. Do you know why? Because it is ridiculous. And if this movie had been made by a major studio in Hollywood with a huge budget and big stars attached to star in it, that’s exactly the sort of movie that would be the result. However, this was made in Canada on a small budget and with relative unknowns in most of the roles. The resulting movie actually works on a lot of different levels and has become one of my favorite “unknown” werewolf movies.
I’m talking, of course, about Ginger Snaps.
Year Released: 2000
Written By: Karen Walton, John Fawcett
Directed By: John Fawcett
Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Mimi Rogers
Ginger and Bridget are a couple of maladjusted sisters who like horror movies, photographing staged scenes of gruesome deaths with themselves as the victims, and high school. Just kidding, they hate high school. Especially one girl in particular, named Trina, who makes their high school life a daily exercise in hell. Meanwhile, it seems local pets have been turning up dead in a series of grizzly animal attacks, reportedly perpetrated by the Beast of Bailey Downs, a terrifying local urban legend.
The sisters decide to kidnap Trina’s precious dog and make her believe the Beast of Bailey Downs had it as a snack. But their plan goes awry when, one night while out searching for a fresh dog carcass to use as a prop in their prank on Trina, the sisters are attacked by something large, something vicious, something that is out for blood: Ginger’s.
Bridget is able to rescue her sister from the jaws of their monstrous attacker and they flee. While crossing the highway, the beast follows and is struck by and splattered across the windshield of an oncoming van. While Bridget and Ginger return home, shocked by the events of the evening, they think the Beast of Bailey Downs’ reign of terror has ended.
But the beast carries a legacy for a reason, and as Bridget notices a change taking place in Ginger, she wonders if she really saved her sister after all.
This movie takes a touching story about two young girls who are at the threshold of adulthood, a sweet coming of age tale, and mashes it into a horrifying tale about a bloodthirsty werewolf on the prowl. Listen, I know how that looks on paper. Trust me. I had read about this movie before seeing it and my expectations were low, but it has become a movie that I proudly recommend to anyone looking for a good low budget werewolf flick. Because let’s face it, there aren’t many of them out there.
I mentioned before that this movie works on a lot of levels, and it really does. The makeup and creature design stands out, as the makers of this film had a small budget and that usually means horrible effects and a laughable finished product. But while the actual werewolf design itself is not the best I’ve seen, I applaud the filmmakers for being able to pull off something that doesn’t look completely ridiculous on screen. Plus, the makeup effects used on Ginger throughout the film are the shining examples of the artistry involved with the makeup in Ginger Snaps. Even moreso than the creature itself.
Which is another reason I enjoyed this movie, that the transformation into a werewolf is a gradual process taking place over the course of the film rather than all in one painful shot. A very unique take on the whole thing and it really adds to the tension.
Ginger Snaps is smartly written and the acting stacks up well with it. The director does a great job of taking you on this trip with Ginger and Bridget as they struggle to find a way to cure Ginger of this disease before it’s too late. You feel the suspense build from the moment Ginger is attacked right through to the big finale of the film and not a single second is wasted.
While watching this movie for the first time, I was pleased to see Mimi Rogers pop up as the mother to Bridget and Ginger. I like Mimi Rogers and her role ended up becoming one of my favorite aspects of this film.
Should You See It:
There’s really nothing I can say here that will convince you to see this movie if you already believe this premise to be stupid, right? All I can say is this: Watch the trailer. Watch the trailer and if any part of it (Mimi Rogers?) sways your feelings toward the concept even a little, then give it a chance. It might surprise you.
There have been no less than three films in the Ginger Snaps trilogy, and they are:
Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed
and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning.
Do not see the latter two first. See Ginger Snaps first and if you enjoyed it as much as I did, only then seek out the sequels (though technically the third one is a prequel, sort of, kind of).
Because they are bad. Well, sort of.