- X gives this film a 4.5 [out of 5] Scalpel Rating™ -
From the opening scenes of this film, it is clear that this will not be your average movie....
A 30 something woman, stands, raking leaves in her backyard, while her child plays in the sandbox. It is a perfect autumn day, and the mother smiles, as she walks over to her child, who is rubbing something on his face. Her look of peacefulness turns to one of horror, as she realizes, that the child is holding in his hands, the bloody and severed paw of a dog. She gathers up the child, and runs to the side of their house, calling for the family dog. "Baxter?"...... then, a scream, and she shields her child's eyes, as the camera pans to the dog, who lays there, torn apart and
disemboweled by some creature. The mother runs into the street and shouts out "It got our dog..... it got Baxter!" A group of children who are playing street hockey, stop for a moment, and then begin to laugh, and continue their game, as the mother falls to her knees screaming.....
A young girl, dressed in a baggy mohair sweater, and woolen kilt, glances over at the scene, and then walks into her bedroom. "Baxter is fertilizer", she drones, to her unaffected sister. As the opening credits run, the film then shifts to beautifully composed and coloured still images of the two girls, in various poses of death, and we are brought into a classroom, where a slide show has just been presented to the class. The teacher stands speechless and stunned, as the two girls who created the film, smile deviously.
Welcome to 'Ginger Snaps'
I am not usually a fan of werewolf films, but this one is an exception. I saw it not only as a "classic" horror yarn, but a coming of age film, filled with myriad metaphors, and messages.
The story centers around two sisters, Ginger  and Brigitte  Fitzgerald. Two outcasts, who dress like gothic-orphan hybrids, and are bound by their strangeness and devotion to one another. They have made a death pact.... "out by 16, or dead in the scene, but together forever."
Neither of the girls has gotten their first period, which is odd, due to their ages. Ginger begins to suffer backaches, and cramps, and one night, while out on a walk, they find another eviscerated canine, and Brigitte looks at Ginger, and says "you have gotten some of it on you", and Ginger lifts her skirt a bit, to reveal a track of blood, trailing down her thigh. "It's the curse!" she says. "Ewwwwwwwwwwww" replies Brigitte. "Don't worry, it isn't like it is contagious!" shouts Ginger.
And suddenly, Ginger is violently attacked by *something*, and in the days ahead, slowly begins to change.
One of my favorite scenes in the film, comes shortly after Ginger's budding transformation. The once shy girl, appears in the hallway of her school, wearing a rather tightly fitting outfit, and confidently walks down the hall, as boys on both sides of the hall bite their hands and drool in amazement. And then, from behind Ginger, we see an emerging Brigitte, still in a shapeless and baggy dress, with the most priceless "what the fuck?!" look on her face. It is from this moment onward, that we see the once inseparable sisters, become torn apart, by forces that are bigger than the both of them.
The story is told from the perspective of Brigitte, and a beautifully horrific tale it is..... one that is filled with metaphors of growing pains, teen angst, and fear of abandonment. The film is bizarre and surreal [for instance: dead dogs lying in public places don't seem to incite any sort of care or concern by those who see them, nor does the obvious appearance of canine like teeth in the mouths of those who are becoming werewolves], yet these images only stand to make the point of the film, more..... 'pointy' :)
I found it especially interesting that none of the adults in the film were strong role models.... from the easily shocked and disturbed teacher, to the clueless and effervescent Pamela, [the mother of Ginger and Brigitte, played by the wonderful Mimi Rogers], to the stone faced and pussy whipped George [the father of the two girls]. I thought that this played wonderfully into the film, since it was told through the eyes of a "child" who felt alienated from everyone and everything around her, and this mood seemed to set the stage for how, people tend to loose touch with youth, as they "mature", so perfectly. Ginger herself has "become an adult", and is changing and becoming a disturbing enigma to the horrified and confused Brigitte.
Yes, the film is about Ginger's transformation into a werewolf, while her sister watches, unable to do anything to help her, but it is also about the changes that we all face in life, while we are growing up, as well as the loss of innocence, and fear of what lies ahead.
I can see how one might view the film as saying that girls turn into "monsters" when they mature into womanhood, and that women are too quickly blamed for the wrongs of society and the world, but, aside from a few examples, i didn't really see too much evidence of this. If anything, i saw that most of the females in the film, leaned towards the strong side.... from Pamela, whose marriage, family and life was falling apart around her, yet, she still managed to stand firm and hopeful, ready to protect her children..... to Brigitte, who was ready to go to any length to save her sister from whatever was happening to her.... to Ginger herself, who uses her new found power as a means of gaining a control that she had never before known.
In contrast, we have the wimpy male teacher, who cringed and stuttered at just about everything... George, who basically said nor did anything to show any sort of spine [or balls] concerning his crumbling marriage and family.... to the boy that Ginger seduces, who is powerless against her advances and strength.. "slow down, and let the boy handle things" he says, as Ginger aggressively pursues him "who's the boy now?!" Ginger shouts, as she attacks and overpowers him sexually, turning him into a werewolf, as well.
All in all, i loved the film, which is most certainly notches above other films of this genre. My favorite character in the film, was Brigitte, because she was strong, and stood true to herself, and to her sister, even when her sister turned against her. It was interesting, that the most "immature" person in the film, ultimately turned out to be the most adult of all. I just love films that defy stereotypes!
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