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1001 Overlooked Movies - Ginger Snaps (2000)

A teenage girl's life is changed when she is bitten by a werewolf.

Directed by: John Fawcett
Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers


Going through adolescence and puberty is never an easy thing. Your body is becoming something very different and your personality is changing too.You are turning into a different creature in some ways. Ginger Fitzgerald (Isabelle) is also going through such changes, but her journey to womanhood is a lot different from that of her usual age group. She is becoming an animal and I don’t mean she has animal-like instincts. I mean she is literally starting to grow hair and fangs. Ginger is becoming a werewolf and although many may feel that her erratic behavior is that of a normal girl, her sister Brigitte (Perkins) knows otherwise. This is one of the best horror films to involve teens because it uses the werewolf mythology as a metaphor for the female puberty cycle.
The Fitzgerald sisters were never the popular ones in school. Labeled as outcasts, the two spend their days thinking about death and making mock suicide photos. Neither of them have had their periods before and both think very little about sex. Ginger is in the beginning stages of her puberty when she is attacked by a werewolf. In an earlier scene, she refers to her first period as “The Curse”. After the attack, things begin to change for Ginger, and it’s not just the normal menstrual cycle that others, including her mother (Rogers) thinks it is. While Brigitte is busy trying to find a cure that will help her sister, Ginger embraces her new attitude and becomes more self-confident then she was before. She has sex with one of the guys in her school and thinks her lust for him was purely sexual. Instead it was to, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Tear everything into fucking pieces”. The bigger her level of  lust grows, the more she changes into a beast. The guy she has sex with  also starts to change too, which I feel is a comment on S.T.D.’s that kids still face today. Brigitte seeks the help of a local drug dealer (Lemche), who tells her that she is the one who is infected, and the two come up with a plan to help save Ginger. Will they be able to save her sister in time or will she just have to live outside on a chain from now on?
The basic idea for 'Ginger Snaps' could have been handled like a horror comedy but writers John Fawcett and Karen Walton keep the story and characters at a realistic level. The script does have humor throughout it but that element stops when scenes need to be more serious and scary. Perkins and Isabelle are believable as siblings and you really feel for them when Ginger’s condition gets worse. It reminds me of movies where someone is a drug addict and their friend tries their best to help them out; they may be gone to the rest of the world, but that person still sees something there and wants to help. There were moments that brought me to tears when I watched this, which makes it stand out from other horror stories. The make up and special effects are impressive, especially for a film made on a low-budget. Ginger’s slow transformation for the most part is really quite cool, but there was one moment that felt a little fake. Still, I've got to give this one props for using practical effects instead of just CGI.
The movie does have other flaws, including one that involves the mother character. She begins to play a bigger part in the story near the end, but is soon forgotten about and we never see her again. I also thought the moment where Ginger attacks the school counselor during the day, and no one else notices, took a lot to buy into as well.  Still, those are just small issues in an otherwise great horror fable.
'Ginger Snaps' became so popular that it spawned two more sequels. 'Ginger Snaps: Unleashed', while not as good as the first one, does benefit from having a good story line that picks up right after the end of this one. 'Ginger Snaps Back' takes place in a different century and wants to be a prequel, but ends up feeling a bit out of place. I still recommend all three, especially if you are fans of this movie.


The official '1001 Movies List' includes the following movies from 2000 - Nine Queens, The Captive, In the Mood For Love, Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets, Gladiator, Kippur, Yi Yi, Requiem For a Dream, Amores Perros, Meet the Parents, Signs & Wonders, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Traffic, The Gleaners & I, Memento, Dancer in the Dark, O Brother Where Art Thou?


The Vern
For more from The Vern, visit his site 'The Video Vortex'.

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