The Horror Honeys: WiHM ~ They don't call it 'The Curse' for nothing...

WiHM ~ They don't call it 'The Curse' for nothing...

A Guest Honey WiHM Review by Sarah

Ginger Snaps (2000)

As the old song goes, the female of the species is more deadly than the male. So what better way to spend Women in Horror Month than looking at a trilogy that is a very female take on the werewolf movie? First up, Ginger Snaps.

The Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, share everything, particularly an obsession with death. These suburban outcasts spend their time posing for macabre photo projects and plotting to kill themselves. When Ginger is bitten by a strange creature the same night she gets her first period she’s stuck with two kinds of curse. Ginger is changing into a bitch, and it’s a more literal definition than would normally be the case with a teenage girl. Brigitte has to face a challenge of figuring out what’s going on before her sister’s body count gets too high.

Let’s be real, being a teenager sucks. Emotionally confusing, physically terrifying, and for those of us with certain body parts, it means more blood than a Tarantino fight scene on a semi-regular basis. At times you genuinely do feel like you’re turning into a monster. Most movies like to shy aware from the “gross” aspects of female puberty, particularly menstruation, but Ginger Snaps doesn’t do that, instead opting to draw very deliberate parallels between it and the werewolf transformation. It works, after all periods have their relationship to the moon cycle just as much as werewolf myths. Many of us will know the deep truth in the line “just so you know, the words “just” and “cramps”? They don’t go together.” In many places the line between horrific monster transformation and normal teen behavior is delightfully blurred. There’s even a helping of werewolfism as an STD when Ginger has unprotected sex with a boy.

Katherine Isabelle, that most beloved of modern Scream Queens, is of course awesome, playing the awkward Goth teen to the emerging sexual siren, but still with quite a sweet element of the awkward at first to full-on creature of the night. Her chemistry with Emily Perkins as sisters really works, and is very believable and nice in its own way. Perkins also does a great job as the shrinking violet who is forced to step up and grow up in the face of her sister's transformations, which culminates in her choosing life over the sisters’ previous preoccupation with death. Mimi Rogers also deserves a shout-out for playing their quintessentially bubbly suburban mom.

The film also has a great element of approaching the werewolf curse with reality-based logic along with the folklore. Silver is used as a piercing, and oh boy that piercing scene is almost worse than any of the gorier moments, because of its relationship to helping infections, same with the use of monkshood. It’s a nice touch and I always like looking at old things from a new point of view.

One key thing in any werewolf film is the effects, and the ones in Ginger Snaps are amazing, changing Ginger piece by piece between scenes in a way that is subtle but very effective. Her emerging tail in particular is a source of much squeamishness for me when watching this film, especially the scene where we see Ginger attempting to hack away the appendage with a kitchen knife. I’m also always a fan of practical prop effects over CGI any day, and Ginger’s final monster form is no exception. Looking less like a conventional wolf and a bit more like one of the twisted dogs from John Carpenter’s The Thing, it is very menacing; you can believe it can rip you to pieces.
Ginger Snaps is a mixture, but it’s a mixture that does all the elements of that very well. It’s a teen movie without being a romantic cliché. It’s a horror movie that never compromises on the gore because of also being a teen movie, and it does black comedy in a way that’s pure moody apathy. It’s gripping, it’s entertaining, it means something, and it’s not afraid to get a little scary. So really it’s a lot like many awesome women I know.

Ginger Snaps gets 4 basement belly button piercings out of 5.

Have you howled with Ginger Snaps lately?