Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald are sisters, incredibly close and fascinated with death. They are also complete outcasts at their school because of their weird attitudes and photo projects of their mock deaths. There have been a rash of neighborhood dogs being killed, so Brigitte decides to play a joke on a bitchy classmate (who shoved her into a dead dog). The plan goes awry when the creature killing the dogs attacks Ginger seconds after getting her first period. Ginger survives the attack. Her wounds immediately start to heal at a rapid pace. After the attack, Ginger's behavior changes drastically: she shows interest in boys, smokes pot, exhibits extreme mood swings, and starts to physically change. Brigitte watches her sister in disbelief and is convinced she's turning into a werewolf. Can she convince her sister and find a cure before it's too late?
Anyone who knows me well knows that I go through obsessions with books and movies. I will reread or -watch things I really enjoy repeatedly over a period of months sometimes. This is one of my obsessions. This film has just enough camp/cheese, suspense, and good story to be the perfect movie. I love the fresh take on werewolves. I usually seriously hate werewolves because it reduces good characters to competing in pissing contests in the pack and being extremely moody and annoying (see the Anita Blake series and the Twilight Saga). Women are generally not in positions of power in the pack and are treated as inferior or as property, which really makes me angry. This film, thankfully, has no werewolf pack and has a fresh interpretation of werewolves. The Hollywood vision of werewolves transforming at the full moon and being defeated by silver bullets is abandoned. The focus is on the transformation of a teenage girl into a werewolf in the span of a month, as an allegory for womanhood and growing up. The animalistic behavior represents the bodily urges of a young woman. She becomes a different person, as one should in a transition from childhood to adulthood. This is shown physically through her slow transformation into a wolf. Brigitte, since she is still a child, is completely terrified by the transformation. She tries everything she can to stop it, but the advancement in the cycle of life is inevitable.
The acting is great. The sisters are completely believable and creepily close at the outset of the film. I personally related to the girls. Who didn't feel isolated or misunderstood in high school? Katharine Isabelle, as Ginger, carries the film well in her change in mood and demeanor as the film progresses. The effects are surprisingly well done, despite being an indie film. There is a lot of blood and gore, plus the deaths of about 4 dogs. The director opted to use prosthetics and makeup to achieve Ginger's transformation which I think worked wonderfully. CGI would have looked way too fake and dated the film. The changes are at first understated not even recognized by the characters. It's not until later in the film that the viewer realizes that the small changes have added up and drastically changed her appearance. I liked that she looked oddly beautiful even in the late stages of her change.
The main musical theme is so hauntingly beautiful, featuring a cello in the melody. Similar themes in the movie are nice, but there are some laughably cheesy moments because of other musical motifs. I think the cheesier moments were intentionally poking fun at the teen horror genre. The climactic face-off at the end of the film between Brigitte and werewolf Ginger was so suspenseful. The first time I watched it, I couldn't look away and I was on the edge of my seat.
There really isn't anything I didn' t like about Ginger Snaps. One can definitely see its effect in recent cinema, especially in Teeth and (unfortunately) Jennifer's Body. I think Ginger Snaps is what Jennifer's Body really wanted to be, but failed miserably. I hope the tradition of gynocentric horror films continues.
**My rating: 10/10**
***You can download the Ginger Snaps theme from the composer's site. Right click on the Ginger Snaps banner on the bottom of the page and select "save link as."***
***Visit the film's official site here.***