Ginger Snaps | In Case You Missed It

Are You There, Talbot? It’s me, Margaret
Jenny Sobczak
Staff Writer

How do you market a werewolf movie to teenage girls? Include some decent looking guys, some metaphors so obviously about puberty that they’re hardly metaphors, and some catty girl-on-girl hatred. With a crazy mother, obsessed with the fact that her daughters are growing up, Ginger Snaps isn’t only a werewolf movie for girls. The Canadian flick found a cult following and spawned both a sequel and a prequel. I finally had a chance to catch this film when IFC showed it last month, and let me just say I can see why it’s a cult hit.

Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins play sisters Ginger and Brigette Fitzgerald: two misfit teenagers obsessed with death enough to make a suicide pact to make sure they die together by the time the younger, Brigette, is sixteen. The plot may seem slightly stereotypical – from “normal” teenager to horrific monster right before our eyes – but it’s the little details that make this movie what it is. It isn’t, in any way, your run-of-the-mill werewolf story. It’s easier to kill these beasts, for one, and the transformation is just as gradual as puberty itself. This transformation also seems to be permanent, which it can be since it has no connection to the full moon.

One of the best and most important aspects of Ginger Snaps is the relationship between Ginger and Brigette. The sisters are as close as twins, despite being one year apart. But this relationship changes as Ginger changes, and turns into something dark and unnatural. It mirrors Ginger’s change in this sense, and their character development and personalities come out the clearest when they’re together. It becomes apparent that Brigette is more willing to do anything to help Ginger than Ginger is, but they do remain consistent throughout the movie. As the older sister, Ginger is more dominant, and Brigette is consistently more submissive.

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The special effects leave a little to be desired, but it was possibly intentional on the director’s part to have it seem a little campy. With the girls’ obsession with suicide comes a montage of fake mortuary pictures, and the werewolves in the movie go along with this camp factor. The werewolves aren’t exactly scary, to say the least, nor are they your traditional fuzzy monsters. Aside from transforming in a different way, these have as much hair as their human counterparts have. The wolves we see look like haunted house animatronics, but it isn’t distracting at all. It fits right in with the rest of the movie.

The overboard metaphors for puberty are just that, though: overboard. It went to a level that I wasn’t quite expecting the first time I saw it. It’s a unique way to present the same narrative, but the how far it goes is almost off-putting. Still, it doesn’t manage to ruin the movie and make me not want to watch it. It’s almost Carrie-esque how the Fitzgerald sisters know next to nothing about “the curse,” but it’s especially puzzling with the way their mother is. Ginger Snaps is also not without its plot holes, as it has a few right from the beginning.

For a movie that was finished so quickly (iMDB says shooting lasted six weeks and editing lasted eight), it’s pretty easy to see why a lot of people like it and why it did so well in the Canadian box office. I don’t know if I’d run out and buy it, but while it’s on my DVR, I won’t shy away from watching it again. It’s perfect for a campy horror movie evening, though, and I’d definitely recommend searching it out on Netflix.

Final Verdict (out of five):