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Ginger Snaps

They Don’t Call it The Curse for Nothing 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

So, we had vampires (“Dracula: 2001”), we had ghosts (“Urban Ghost Story”, “The Others” et al) and sundry inexplicable ghouls (“Jeepers Creepers”, “Shrek” etc), but what we were all thinking, as 2001 unrolled its many surprises, is that what we really REALLY need is a darn good werewolf film. Okay, perhaps no one was thinking that, but it doesn’t really matter, because we were given, from Canada no less, almost certainly the most intelligent, visually exciting and entertaining lycanthropic movie of all time.

Taking the physicalities of the werewolf tradition as being a metaphor for puberty, or more specifically the “curse” of female sexual development, “Ginger Snaps” walks the path untravelled in bringing the legend to life. Ginger and her sister Beverly live a cloistered life, and have devised a pact that they will kill themselves before Ginger turns sixteen, thereby avoiding the complexities of womanhood. However, when Ginger is bitten by a wild wolf roaming the neighbourhood, her attitudes towards boys, sex and life change as dramatically as she herself does.

A film such as this is made or destroyed by the performances – we have to believe that such bizarre things are really happening to the characters, or it all becomes a bit of a farce. Luckily, Emily Perkins brings to the role of Ginger the perfect mix of the gothic outsider and the inexperienced girl on the edge of womanhood. Her transition from girl to snarling monster is entirely credible, not least thanks to the marvellous performance of Katherine Isabelle as her deeply unsettled, and deeply insecure, younger sister, to whom the task of saving Ginger’s soul falls.

Although far from being a standard horror film “Ginger Snaps” nevertheless functions as an expertly crafted genre picture. Unashamedly bloody when the need arises (which is surprisingly rarely), and often extremely tense, this is definitely not a movie for the faint- hearted. However, it is a film for those who are bored with the standard slasher fare doing the rounds since “Scream”. There is no sense of predictability or seen-it-all-before that seems to be an intrinsic part of modern horror; this film feels like a breath of fresh air and treats its audience like adults, not post-modern pseudo-intellectual teenagers. In my opinion “Ginger Snaps” stands tall as the most original horror film released in 2001, as well as the most intelligent. Although horror is traditionally a male-dominated genre, this is a chick film with bite.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2001/2002 Spring Term (35mm)