Friday, October 16, 2009

#17 - Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps (2000)
Directed by: John Fawcett. Written by: Karen Walton.

Plot: Two very close sisters who enjoy photography and talking about death have a run in with a werewolf. One of them (Katherine Isabelle) is bitten and begins to slowly change into a monster while the other sister (Emily Perkins) tries to cope with the ordeal.

Review: This is probably the best werewolf movie I have seen. Granted, I haven’t seen a whole lot of werewolf flicks but the ones I have seen I generally haven’t liked (with a few notable exceptions, ex: American Werewolf, Wolf, Captain Werewolf vs. Vampire Lady). This is not due to a dislike of werewolves. I love werewolves, as a people, however, werewolf movies usually suffer from two major problems. First, they are only werewolves for, like, a few days out of the month. The rest of the time they are indistinguishable from humans, unlike vampires which are vampires all the time. This means you either have to skip huge periods of time or show their boring ass life.

Second, there’s the whole FX thing. Unfortunately, you can’t really do a werewolf movie without some kind of FX. You really have to see the person in full wolf get-up at least once or else the movie feels like a total rip off. These days, there are three approaches to this: make-up (the Wolf Man look - normal guy with a lot of facial hair, pointy teeth, and maybe claws or something), really fucking cool prosthetics/puppets/stop-motion shit (American Werewolf, The Howling - the werewolf may be a guy in a wolf-suit or some kind of animatronic puppet, but at least it isn’t a man in a mask) or CGI (fuck you). Or a combination.

All of them look like shit, just some of them look better than others.

This movie deals with both problems fairly well. The first one is solved by having the transformation take place over a month, at the end of which the girl presumably is stuck in wolf form. This was sort of the idea behind Wolf, only Jack Nicholson was almost an okay guy in that - I mean, he rescued Michelle Pfeifer from that other dude, right?

The second problem is dealt with by not really showing the full monster except in one or two shots and even then you don’t really get a good look at it. The transformation of the character in this movie is way more important than the special FX and they totally take your attention away from that with good dialogue, pacing and so forth. The monster still looks like shit, but you don’t notice so much.

Now. I’ve been trying to figure out why the sequel is hailed for being so much better than this movie. My theory is that the majority of people (read: men. Sorry guys) who watch these movies either don’t get or are grossed out by the blatant menstruation analogy. In the sequel, they made it about drug addiction and rehab instead, which I think people are more comfortable with.

However, the period thing is half the appeal of this movie. Not only is it one of the best werewolf movies, it’s also one of the best female coming of age movies ever, being a very good depiction of what it is actually like to go through puberty. It’s a little bit exaggerated, but not much. You (or rather, I) can identify with the characters completely (being as I am teenager with morbid obsessions, hot friends and… flakiness. But then, who wasn’t at one point, right?).

Also, you get to see a guy getting his period and his reaction to it, which is pretty satisfying in and of itself (“my pen burst” “your red pen?”. HAHaha).

Plus the two leads are both extremely good, and I lament that I never really see them in anything else of note (not to say that they haven’t done anything of note, I just haven’t seen it).

Yep. This movie is pretty wow. And, ya know, painfully Canadian, but that's okay...

Favourite Part:
Ginger and Brigitte’s mother (Mimi Rogers). She cracks me up and makes me nauseous simultaneously. Gotta love it.

Other versions:

Sequels: The inferior Ginger Snaps: Unleashed and bizarre Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning - the fact that it is subtitled The Beginning should be a warning sign in and of itself. About the same two characters, only it’s set waaaaaaay back in the day. Doesn’t make a lot of sense but the costumes are sort of nice.

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