Review: Ginger Snaps

Ginger snaps. Delicious treats constructed from ginger-flavoured biscuity-stuff rolled into a cigar, and pumped full of brandy cream. The cigars can be prepared ahead of time and frozen for several months, so they’re basically available whenever you want to devour them. Ginger Snaps (the film) tells the story of the Fitzgerald girls, who are far less interested in your satisfaction. Ginger Fitzgerald (Katherine Isabelle) and her sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) hate anyone acting sweet, and Ginger’s going to do most of the devouring in this feature length film directed by John Fawcett.

We meet the pair as they photograph their own carnivalesque faked deaths for a school assignment. Like Canadian nu-metal Francesca Woodmans, they’re dedicated to exploring their own mortality and locating their own fate, a theme rife throughout the film.

Like Canadian nu-metal Francesca Woodmans, they’re dedicated to exploring their own mortality and locating their own fate, a theme rife throughout the film.

Had the entire film maintained such an inspired visual approach, it may have stood up against edgy music videos from the excellent Floria Sigismondi with her twisted, brutal and rich palettes. The tragedy of two high school shootings (including Columbine) around the time of filming are said to have reduced the film’s allocated funding, without which it definitely would have soared higher.

During one of their next missions (investigating a spate of gruesome neighbourhood pet murders), Ginger realises her first period has arrived, and minutes later is mauled by a werewolf. The sisters aren’t sure which violation is worse. In her new and evolving post-attack body, Ginger becomes a kind of hybrid monstrous feminine prototype: mixture of witch and werewolf, maybe even part-vampire.

In her new and evolving post-attack body, Ginger becomes a kind of hybrid monstrous feminine prototype: mixture of witch and werewolf, maybe even part-vampire.

It’s fun seeing the werewolf horror genre flipped on its head, with an annoyed teenage girl at the helm: as Ginger explains, ‘I’ve got this ache, and I thought it was for sex, but it’s to tear everything to fucking pieces.’

Years before Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl) faked her death and slashed her ex mid-coitus, and Jennifer Check (Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body) started devouring her high school’s male population, Ginger had her own qualms about the ‘Cool Girl’ trope: ‘No one ever thinks chicks do shit like this. A girl can only be a slut, bitch, tease or the virgin next door.’ While she’s exploring her newfound abilities, Brigitte is forced to search for a cure for the werewolf bite. Her main ally? Drug dealer Sam (Kris Lemche), genuinely interested in ‘helping’ Brigitte (who is grossed out by her own allure). Side note: keep your eye on the hilarious Mimi Rogers who cameos as Mama Fitzgerald.

Decisions to utilise traditional prosthetics and makeup ultimately look cheap and dated, but no more subpar than the Twilight franchise. Anyway, we’re here for the fun of the journey, not the postcards. Fans of Carrie, The Exorcist, and The Craft will find this thought-provoking, albeit less visually masterful than the 1970s forebears. It’s a neighbourhood tilted sideways, smeared with blood and dark with humour; the soft out-of-focus visuals of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides are nowhere to be seen. If you like your teen malaise blood-covered and rare, Ginger’s your girl.