Nowhere is that beauty better showcased than in Ginger Snaps, the Canadian Werewolf horror flick that pounced onto Festival Screens in 2000! Ginger (Isabelle) and her sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) are two misfit, Goth teens who are the Black Sheep of their school and the Black Sheep of the Fitzgerald clan. They're obsessed with Death, have a pact that they'll both be dead by 16, or will be together forever, and present class projects consisting of photographs of their own grizzly death scenes in greatly made-up shot after shot. Their supportive mother Pam (played by Mimi Rogers) is only worried that the girls seem to be late bloomers. Yeah, that's realistic... someone as well endowed as Katharine Isabelle hasn't hit Puberty yet.
Late one night, during a full moon, sweet Ginger gets two curses at once, as her own blood summons the werewolf who soon takes a bite out of Ging'! Now, Ginger is becoming a woman, right as she's becoming a werewolf. Oh, great, and I used up all my Werewolf/ Menstruation jokes in my review for Dog Soldiers! That's just great! Way to PLAN, man!
Almost immediately, Ginger goes from hot to even hotter as her change begins to take shape (and SHAKE). And let me tell you, you're not going to believe what takes place when Ginger snaps! She sets her sites on Jesse Moss' Jason McCardy, experimenting and spreading the disease, while Brigitte (AKA: "B") seeks help from a local drug dealer named Sam (Kris Lemche), who was witness to the first beast's demise.
As Ginger becomes her own monster, the close relationship between the sisters becomes more and more strained and B balances the fine line between respecting her sister's growth and needing to protect her (often from herself).
Ginger Snaps is a unique Horror Film, and would stand alone among Werewolf Flicks if it hadn't already spawned a popular sequel and prequel. The change from human to wolf is gradual and frightening (almost always, though, Isabelle looks incredible). Ginger Snaps is at its best when at it most subtle. Director John Fawcett (who also gets a story credit with Screen Writer Karen Walton) delivers an interesting allegory for puberty and feminine maturity here, wrapped up in a Werewolf Thriller. Further, there is a bit of an underlying Feminist message in the film. B and Ginger both use their repression as a vehicle for angst as well as a mask for some of the surprising things that they do during their separate missions.
Ginger Snaps is also funny. Never does it take itself too seriously. The wry wit pokes fun at the morbid and gruesome nature of quite a bit of what is shown on the screen and the actors generally seem to be having a good time with the film they're bringing to life.
It all leads up to an ending that is equal parts An American Werewolf in London and Terms of Endearment. Strangely, Ginger Snaps is almost ruined when the actual Werewolf (or "Gingerwolf" as it's credited) rears its monstrous head in the final act. From that point, Ginger Snaps feels like another horror movie with a big, scary monster jumping out at the audience. That's not to say it's bad. In fact, it's pretty darned satisfying! However, it's not quite what I'd call a seamless fit.
Helping out with this is the Special Make-Up/ Creature Design effects by Paul Jones. Occasionally the monster looks a tad rubbery, but then, we only see the Gingerwolf at select moments. Fawcett knows well enough when to show us everything and when to hide it under a bushel. The majority of the effects serve to enhance the gradual and (at first) subtle changes of Katharine Isabelle as her title character snaps more and more. At first it's just hot, but after a while... dude, if you thought she looked like an Alien before... man! Regardless, it's pretty much first rate all around, and Isabelle's capable performance sells the role farther than mere makeup ever could.
This film never tries to be more than it is, and I can't imagine anyone would fault me for not giving it Five Stars. It's comfortable in its edgy niche and has gained a lot of fans for being exactly what it is. As a fan myself, I embrace what this film is, what it has become and what it shoots for. Ginger Snaps is a hilarious and horrific little thriller, more than worth the time of any self-respecting Werewolf Fan. It's also fully worth Three and One Half Stars out of Five. Canada, I salute you. Katharine, I salute you! Katharine, I salute you! Katharine, I... what? I'm not done yet. Sheesh! In the Easter Egg Category, listen closely to the Announcer on School's PA System... it's none other than Lucy Lawless in a rare voice-only cameo. I guess I'm glad she didn't do that SCREAM thing! Lucy Lawless, I SALUTE YOU! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to spend some time with the one woman I really do salute in real life... my wife. Sure I can do that while I'm typing, but right now... I'm trying to get her to shave my back. See you in the next reel, Hairy!
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