Blu-ray review: “Ginger Snaps Trilogy” (2000 – 2004)

“Ginger Snaps Trilogy” (2000 – 2004)

Ginger Snaps” (2000)

Horror

Running Time: 108 minutes

Written by: Karen Walton

Directed by: John Fawcett

Featuring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Jesse Moss, Danielle Hampton, John Bourgeois, Peter Keleghan and Mimi Rogers

Brigitte: “People don’t leave their dogs out alone anymore.”

Ginger: “Then you’ll just have to distract her while I nab the pooch and make with the gore.”

Brigitte: “I can’t distract her.”

Ginger: “The fuck, Bee. This is your idea. If you don’t like your ideas, stop having them.”

Released recently on DVD and Blu-ray is the complete series of werewolf movies “Ginger Snaps Trilogy” (2000 – 2004) which sees one of the more successful turn of the millennium horror movies that was directly influenced by the Joss Whedon created “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) which at its heart had a female protagonist as well as a multitude of different types of antagonists. The first “Ginger Snaps” (2002) was part of a wave of female centric horror movies which has lasted until today, many have switched their setting from High School to College to make the horror more palatable. In fact “Ginger Snaps” has quite a number of horrific scenes involving blood which of course is a part of female maturation, there is a close link made in the movie, not is no coincidence as the main writer is female.

“Ginger Snaps” in its narrative attempts to do something different within the expected nature of a ‘werewolf’ movie, the filmmakers have attempted to do away with the familiar periodic full moon transformation mythology. What we witness throughout the movie is Ginger gradually shape-shifts into a large dog form. Along the way, symptoms develop, such as sharper teeth and nails, increased hairiness, becoming white streaks in her mane, and hormone-driven instincts that tear her between desires for animalistic sex and bloody carnage. Of course the parallel’s between this and puberty are obvious, in fact we witness them talking about their menstrual cycle with a teacher after they discover what is happening to Ginger.

“Ginger Snaps” concerns fifteen-year-old Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins) and her nearly sixteen-year-old sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), are a team — best friends and self-styled outcasts. Obsessed with dying and bound by a childhood pact to stay together forever, they loathe their mind-numbing existence in the suburb of Bailey Downs. One night, the two girls are heading through the woods when Ginger is savagely attacked by a wild creature. Ginger survives as her horrible wounds miraculously heal over, but something is not quite right. Ginger is irritable and in denial. But to Brigitte it is obvious that a terrifying force has taken hold of her sister. She’s convinced that the insatiable craving her sister is experiencing can mean only one thing — Ginger is becoming something unspeakable and monstrous.

Co-written by Karen Walton whose sharp screenplay is especially stronger in the family scenes, allowing performances of very surreal fantasy from the young leads, and a very funny turn from Mimi Rogers as their perkily callous Mom. Walton explores the relationships between the sisters and their classmates, their parents and each other before the horror narrative really kicks in which in genre terms is the best way to explore this story. It enables an audience to understand how the world works as well as how characters relate to each other. Of course one of the ways to understand the sisters is through their enactments of their own possible suicides which sets them up as real girls, whether you want to admit it or not. When the horror element of the movie takes over the narrative becomes super efficient because we already know most of the motivations driving everyone. To be fair as you watch this movie twenty years on the only real letdown is the obvious small budget which means the full werewolf itself is a little disappointing and can be distracting.

Of course “Ginger Snaps” has at its core the performances of Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle as the sisters who are put upon by their classmates as well as an ancient curse that threatens to break their bond and cease chaos in their small corner of the world. I actually believe that it is the one, two punch of both actresses in these roles that makes “Ginger Snaps” the movie it is and where they are willing to go with their performances that makes this movie so good, watchable and timeless. The other performance which anchors the family emotionally is the small but pivotal role of their mother played expertly by Mimi Rogers.

As this is a horror movie and more specifically a werewolf movie there are some special effects involved which are from what I can tell are mostly physical, so we have Ginger slowly transforming into what is essentially a giant dog. The slow transformation of Ginger still looks and works fine, mainly because of Isabelle’s performance under the pretty heavy prosthetics, however the main issue is the full animatronic dog form at the conclusion of the movie which is clunky to say the least. Ever since the production of horror movies there have been decisions made how to show monsters onscreen from not at all to taking centre stage, an example of each are “Cat People” (1942) where the antagonists are never seen to “An American Werewolf in London” (1982) where the monster is seen front and centre in the third act where all hell breaks loose. In terms of “Ginger Snaps” the decision should have been made by a producer to not show the full form in its entirety as this is where the issue is, maybe quick cutting or silhouettes used to hide the giant do may have worked but what is onscreen certainly does not work well.

Ultimately “Ginger Snaps” works very well and is a highlight of early millennium horror movies as well as a debut movie from director John Fawcett who is now a well regarded TV genre director and has a large body of work behind him. “Ginger Snaps” is definitely worth a watch as are its two sequels which act as a nicely rounded trilogy with the two main actresses as both protagonist and antagonist, the performances are excellent and their is enough originality that drives the narrative through the trilogy.

Special Features

• Deleted Scenes
• Cast Auditions and Rehearsals
• Being John Fawcett – featurette
• Making Of – featurette
• Creation of the Beast – featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots

“Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed” (2004)

Horror

Running Time: 94 minutes

Written by: Megan Martin

Directed by: Brett Sullivan

Featuring: Emily Perkins, Tatiana Maslany, Eric Johnson, Janet Kidder, Katharine Isabelle and Brendan Fletcher

Ginger: “We can’t fight what’s in us, B.”

Brigitte: “I’m not like you, Ginger… I’m stronger.”

Ginger: [laughs] “Oh really? That’s not how I remember you the first fifteen years of your life.”

Brigitte: “It’s how I remember the last fifteen minutes of yours.”


As part of this set is the sequel “Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed” (2004) which sees Bridgette return and dealing with the aftermath of the first movie, she is fighting her transformation and in doing so is mistaken for a drug addict. The main narrative is now firmly set around Bridgette (Emily Perkins) as Ginger is no longer around, although she does make numerous appearances which is kind of fun as she is still a caustic sister, in fact think about the Jack character (Griffin Dunne) in “An American Werewolf in London” (1982), and his role which is emblematic of Ginger in this movie. I am not going to spoil this movie as the surprises and left turns are very well done as is the continuing growth of Bridgette.

“Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed” is directed by Brett Sullivan and written by Megan Martin, this movie is the first for both of them and in parts it shows but for most of it this is a very well made movie. Interestingly some of the same themes from the first film are present here. More so though we see Bridgette locked away in an asylum with other women (not girls) who are not conforming for one reason or another. We also see the patients treated terribly by the guards as well as pitted against each other by the people in charge. Of course this is still a werewolf movie and also shows the aftermath of the first movie through Bridgettte’s issues that are now even more complex.

Following the events of the first film, Brigitte flees the suburbs of Bailey Downs, away from a fierce lycanthropic creature stalking her, to a drug rehabilitation clinic run by Alice Seversen (Janet Kidder), a street-smart former addict. There, she meets the handsome but immoral orderly Tyler (Eric Johnson), and 14-year-old Miranda (Tatiana Maslany), known to all as Ghost. When people start to die in the clinic, she knows the creature has found her again.

As with the first movie the performances are key, this time the main new actor introduced is the now familiar Tatiana Maslany who is quite young but the strength of her performance is evident and it is easy to see why she has had such a long and successful career to this date.

“Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed” is a very good sequel and carries on the story of the first movie in a way that is different but a spiritual successor to the first one.

Special Features

• Production Audio Commentary with director Brett Sullivan, executive producers John Fawcett & Noah Segal, and producer Paula Devonshire
• Behind the Scenes
• Deleted Scenes
• Screen Tests
• Storyboards
• Theatrical Trailer

“Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning” (2004)

Horror

Running Time: 94 minutes

Written by: Stephen Massicotte and Christina Ray

Directed by: Grant Harvey

Featuring: Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle

Brigitte: “Our parents drowned?”

Ginger: “Yes, but they didn’t feel any pain. It was quite peaceful.”

“Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning” takes place in the 19th century where the Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, take refuge at Fort Bailey, home of the Northern Legion Trading Company. But the ground is cursed, and no one leaves for fear of the monstrous beasts lurking in the area. Now, Ginger and Brigitte’s vow to stay “together, forever” gets tested as one of the sisters slowly slips into a darkening fate.

Special Features

• Audio Commentary with director Grant Harvey, writer Stephen Massicotte and editor Ken Filewych
• Deleted Scenes
• Grant Harvey’s Video Diary
• Wolf Boy – featurette
• Blood Guts & Fire – featurette
• Production Design Walk Through – featurette
• Fun On Set – featurette
• Costume Design – featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer

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