Ginger Snaps


Rating 3½

Directed by John Fawcett

Written by Karen Walton, from a story by Karen Walton and John Fawcett

Starring Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, John Bourgeois, Jesse Moss, Danielle Hampton, Pak-Kwong Ho and Peter Keleghan

“Out by sixteen or dead on the scene, but together forever... United against life as we know it.”

Two sisters, Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins), aged nearly 16 and just 15 respectively, rebel against the mundane conformity of their dull and faceless suburban lives by cultivating a morbid fascination with death, staging a number of fake suicides, all of them horrific in nature, and photographing the results for a school project. Both sisters have so far not started menstruation, which they consider to be a badge of honour. However, when Ginger is savagely attacked on the night of a full moon by a werewolf, which is then killed when it is hit with force by a van driven by the local drug dealer Sam (Kris Lemche), everything begins to change.


“Just so you know... the words “just” and “cramps”, they don’t go together!”

This strange darkly comic low-budget independent Canadian werewolf film was first shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 2000, before receiving a theatrical release in Canada the following year. It had, if the entry at Wikipedia is to be believed, already been the subject of an unusual degree of adverse media attention in Canada during the casting process as a result of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado in April 1999.

The werewolf theme is a metaphor for puberty and menstruation, the hormonal sexuality of teenagers and the different attitudes of and towards teenage boys and teenage girls. In many ways it bears some comparison to the 1984 Neil Jordan film ‘The Company of Wolves’, based on Angela Carter’s short story of the same name. However, many critics seem to have identified a stylistic link to David Cronenberg, making the point that Cronenberg, like John Fawcett, the director here, is Canadian.

For about the first hour or so this film is quite brilliant, with a rapier-sharp script and fabulous performances by the two leads, as well as a great turn by Mimi Rogers, playing their equally quirky mother Pamela. After that it does start to gradually rather lose its way and ultimately it is simply too long. Fifteen minutes could easily have been shaved off the running time. This is a shame, because it slightly spoils what might otherwise have been a near-classic film. Having said that, I think it still deserves its cult reputation.

‘Ginger Snaps’ has an 89% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 47 reviews. The production budget is quoted at Wikipedia to have been CAN$4.8 million. The film had a virtually non-existent theatrical run in the U.S., grossing just $2,500 at the box office. However, two more films followed; ‘Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed’, which I like very much, and ‘Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning’, a decent prequel, both with Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle reprising their roles. Although Perkins plays the younger of the two sisters, she is actually four and a half years older than Isabelle.

Kris Lemche played God in the wonderful ‘Joan of Arcadia’.

Review posted 8 April 2009


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