Friday, January 13, 2012

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Reading up on the movies I watch inevitably leads me to ever more movies to watch. And so it is that in the wake of watching The Company of Wolves, I was directed to Ginger Snaps, another werewolf movie that plays on the symbolism of sexual awakening - specifically, the onset of puberty. Unlike the former movie, this one is less an exploration of themes and more a standard narrative. Early on it plays up the similarities between lycanthropy and the changes initiated by menarche, and blurs the appetite for flesh with sexual desire (setting up at least one really good "infection" joke), but instead of maintaining the symbolism, it veers more towards traditional horror fare later on.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. When the movie started, my immediate impression was that it feels like a cheap modern movie (in contrast to the classic and cinematic feel of The Company of Wolves, which is from the '80s), but it turned out, to my delight, to be actually highly watchable. Much of that is probably due to the dual leads, two teenage sisters, who, as gothic outcasts, are eminently likable (and ironically, much more attractive than the "popular" girls they are bullied by). One of their first orders of business in the film is the presentation of their school project, consisting of photographs of elaborately staged suicides by the both of them, as their response to the theme of "Life in Bailey Downs" (which is the name of the neighborhood they inhabit). Seriously, these girls raise suicide to the level of high art, and the teacher's moral indignation is especially egregious because any true artist with integrity would see - not just the talent of the girls' work - but the genius of their artistic vision.

Anyway, there's a mysterious beast loose in Bailey Downs, that's been knocking off the neighborhood's dogs in gruesome fashion. We never find out where this beast came from, or why it's stalking Bailey Downs, but one of our girls, named Ginger, gets bitten (in)conveniently on the night she gets her first (belated, at the age of 16) period. As it goes, gushing blood, strange desires, hair in unusual places, and monthly frenzies are par for the course for any lycanthrope - or adolescent girl. The rest of the movie deals largely with Ginger's gradual transformation into a confident and sexy young woman, albeit with an unusually violent temperament, and her more sensible sister Brigitte's difficult attempts to stick with her, while often having to clean up after her sister's impulsive messes. The movie grows to a rather tense - if a little drawn out - climax, leading to a sad and heartfelt ending. Ginger Snaps doesn't inspire quite like The Company of Wolves did, but it is entertaining nonetheless, and worth watching for fun.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed Ginger Snaps. I agree the ending was drawn out, but then again I think that for just about any movie. Short attention span, you see...

    Reminded me a lot of The Craft, same kind of blend between teen drama and horror. But I feel like Ginger Snaps was put together better, for some reason.