It’s a angst-fuelled film about teenage werewolves, and we know from recent years just how dire those kind of movies can be, so how is it that 2000s wolfy romp Ginger Snaps managed to get it just so right?
Meet Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins), two 15-year-old sisters who live in Bailey Downs, a bog standard Canadian suburb. The sisters spend most of their times staging twisted death scenes to keep each other on their toes, whilst going about an otherwise quiet and introverted life. That is until one night when Ginger finally starts her period and they are attacked in the woods by what is presumed to be ‘The Beast of Bailey Downs’, a creature that has been savaging the dogs in the area. Both get away alive, but Ginger was hurt. It’s not long before they realise something is wrong with Ginger; she heals far quicker than she should, starts sporting a Joan Collins’ ‘tude and grows a tail – let’s not forget the whole dating of boys, which is definitely new territory. As Ginger progressively begins to lose grip on her human self, Brigitte must find a cure before it is too late.
I remember waiting up late on a school night when I was about 14 or 15 to watch this movie. I hadn’t expected too much from it, but I thought it might be a bit of a laugh. 1hr 40 mins later, consider me pinned against the headboard and well and truly stunned by the sheer magnificence of it.
From the off you know this isn’t just any average horror movie. The opening sequence where we discover our two young leads taking photos of each other as they lay/hangs/splay, most bloody, in disturbingly well-thought out death scenes. Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins really were the perfect choice to play the two teen girls as they uncover the horrors of puberty, sex and well…horror. Katharine Isabelle is incredible in her transformation from plain old Ginger to the feral and highly sexually charged werewolf Ginger.
Director John Fawcett delivers us not only a fantastic, gripping and tense horror movie, but also an incredibly dark black comedy and a truly terrifying coming of age movie – Stand By Me be damned! It’s original and inspired and the style of the shooting perfectly mirrors the tone of the dialogue and plot.
At points Ginger Snaps does step into the murky realm of Hollywood clichés such as the sexy ‘bad boy’ type who helps Brigitte by supplying her with the stuff she needs in order to be able to cure her sister, but I wouldn’t say the film is harmed by this – they are teenage girls after all, so what do you expect?! When I was 15, I had my fair share of budding romances with some slightly unsavory boys in the area; shame none of them were as hot as Sam…
Ginger Snaps is a simply fantastic film that isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of the genre and supplies a really interesting mix of comedy, tragedy and horror. Plus is puts me in mind of Heathers, which I bloody love. A clever satire that really bites.