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Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps

By Patrick Samuel • January 9th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Motion International

Original release: May 11th, 2001
Running time: 108 minutes

Director: John Fawcett
Writers: Karen Walton, John Fawcett

Cast: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers

Ginger Snaps

There’s no worse time in a person’s life than being a teenager. I remember it being a really rough few years; from the time I turned 13 everything upside down. There were mood swings, my voice changed, I started to outgrow all the clothes I enjoyed wearing as a kid, and while I never had the problem of spots, I suddenly became aware of all the other odd things my body was doing during puberty. Yet for as horrible as all that was, I can’t imagine what it must be like for girls who have to cope so many other things that boys remain completely clueless about.

Ginger Snaps then is a film that takes those difficult teenage years of a girl and magnifies it to the Nth degree.

Its story is centred on Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle), two morbid and inseparable teenage sisters who are pre-occupied with death and stage a series of grisly mock suicide photographs to hand in for their class assignment. As a result, their teacher and school guidance counsellor want to see them after class, but the girls aren’t too bothered. They play “Search and Destroy”, a game where they identify the people at school they don’t like and imagine the various ways they might die.

When one of the popular girls overhears them and pushes Brigitte onto the remains of a dog that’s been mutilated by a wild animal they’ve dubbed “the Beast of Bailey Downs”, as revenge the sisters plan to kidnap her dog that night and fool her into thinking it’s become another of the animal’s victims. The carrying out of this plan coincides with Ginger’s first period and the actual Beast of Bailey Downs emerges and attacks and drags her into the woods kicking and screaming.

From this moment on, Ginger Snaps becomes the story both of how the sisters try to cope with their bodies as they become young women, and of Ginger’s slow and painful transformation into a werewolf while Brigitte and her friend Sam (Kris Lemche) try to come up with a way to reverse the process.

Ginger Snaps

What first looks like nothing else but claws marks from the animal across Ginger’s chest then turns into something much worse as she starts to grow hair from it, a tail and then menstruating quite heavily. Together with an appetite for flesh and blood, her hair turning white and other bodily protrusions, the sisters try to cover it up, along with the trail of bodies Ginger’s leaving behind, and pretend they’re just having a hard time coping with their periods.

We see Ginger first changing from a high school outcast into a sexually dominant teen, driven by her animal instincts to attract boys. As the transformation continues, the boys, and everyone else around her become scared, but Brigitte, who shares a strong bond with her sister, remains determined not to give up on her.

Ginger Snaps effectively mixes teen angst and raw horror and results in a film that’s thoughtful and at times scary. Though we’ve seen werewolf transformations in films such as An American Werewolf In London (1981) and The Howling (1981), we’ve never seen it quite from this perspective Ginger Snaps before. Puberty and body horror have long been synonymous with each other, but usually from the male point of view, with this film, the body horror is combined with a girl’s first period and the sisters’ anxiety about what the menstrual cycle involves.

The film is also clear about safe sex issues and this reflected in a painful scene where one of Ginger’s conquests later on visits the school urinal after having unprotected sex with her a few days earlier, and urinates a stream of blood. I’m still wincing right now at the mere thought of it.

With excellent performances from its lead and supporting cast, including Mimi Rogers as the mom who just wants the best for her girls, Ginger Snaps proved there was still a lot of bite left in the werewolf sub-genre and while it was followed up by two sequels, its original remains my favourite.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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