Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ginger Snaps Back

I watched the original Ginger Snaps some time ago, but somehow never wrote a review about it.  I don't know why, because I absolutely loved the film.  While not a perfect movie by any means, I felt it really spoke to the rebellious teenager that still lives inside me.  Had I seen that movie when it first came out, I probably would have had the poster on my wall and watched the DVD religiously.

Being Women in Horror Month I decided it was a good time to check out one of the sequels, Ginger Snaps Back.  It's actually the third film in the series, but it's also a prequel, so not yet seeing Ginger Snaps II was not an issue.  This film jumps back to the 19th century and is primarily set at a trading company outpost in the wilderness in the deep of winter.  This makes for a very different film from the original, though our two main characters, the sisters Ginger and Brigitte, are identical to their eventual descendants. The sisters relationship was the strength of the first film, and it continues to be great here.


Unfortunately, the plot is a little substandard, or perhaps too standard.  A group is trapped at the outpost with werewolves attacking them at night.  No one trusts anyone, there is most likely a werewolf hiding among them, there's a preacher who doesn't trust the sisters, Native American vs white man hatred, etc.  You can see most of it coming from a mile away.  Add to that the fact that a seer tells them that they must "kill the boy, or one sister will kill the other" and we know even more about what will happen.  To its credit, the movie does try to throw us a curve ball at the end, but even that is not too surprising.

 Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins play wonderfully off each other.  While they don't physically look like sisters, they display a wonderful amount of affection and care for each other.  You truly believe these two will be there for each other no matter what.  As the film begins they are on their own, and we never find out what happened to them to get that way, but you know it must have been difficult.

The rest of the cast is a mixed bag.  Nathanial Arcand is heroic and dashing as the Native American Hunter, and was definitely the kind of character I wanted to know more about.  Tom McCamus does a steady job as the leader of the group who has lost his wife and son to the werewolves.  However the villains, the woman hater played by J. R.Bourne and the reverend played by Hugh Dillon, are far too over the top and caused me a lot of eye rolling.

The effects here are very cheaply done.  That's not really too surprising given that this was a direct to DVD release.  The main issue is that the werewolves look so fake that it's really distracting.  Their faces have barely any movement to them, and I'm pretty sure the costumes were set up so that people were hunched over with hand stilts under the fur.  They move really unnaturally and just end up looking silly rather than scary.  The blood effects are much nicer looking by comparison.

I would recommend this film only after you've seen the first if you find yourself wanting more.  It's not a terrible film, but it's not a great one either.  While it could easily stand on its own without you having seen the original, it pales in comparison to that one. 

4 comments:

  1. +JMJ+

    I saw the first Ginger Snaps and liked it, although I found it a bit darker than I expected. (A friend of mine whom no one really credits with sensitivity described it as "sad.") It was really easy for the filmmakers to be two-dimensional in making lycanthropism a metaphor for menarche, but they really gave it some real depth.

    On the other hand, despite all the emotions it stirred in me, I don't feel much of a connection to it. I guess that's why I couldn't be bothered to see the next two movies.

    Just wondering: is the werewolves-Native American connection common in US lore/movies? Of course, the only other example I can think of is Twilight (Bwahahahaha!), but if there's a longer tradition, it would be interesting. =)

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  2. Agreed, they handled it really well. I want to watch it again sometime and give it a more proper review. It's been too long at this point for me to speak accurately about it.

    After I posted this I got a really strong recommendation to watch the second, so I'm going to check it out sometime. But yeah, I wasn't originally in much of rush to see the sequels either.

    In this movie, it's actually strongly suggested that the lycanthropy came from the French. A settler speaks of the Loup Garou, and then later the Native Americans talk about how the white man brought his diseases with him when he came. Which is an interesting idea, I thought. As far as whether that's become a tradition... I've heard of shamans that could turn into other animals, but I can't think of a specific werewolf/Native American connection beyond those two you mentioned.

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  3. +JMJ+

    Oh, I love the idea of lycanthropy as a "white man's disease"! Presumably, the Native American shamans who could already shapeshift were not also more inclined to be evil? I hope this interpretation is not too un-PC, though! =P

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  4. Hm.. I want to say one of those shamans was a hero on the old Super Friends cartoon? So he wasn't evil at least. :)

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