low budget Canadian feature is remarkably well-made
and entertaining, an I Was
a Teenage Werewolf for the modern era —
with a 16-year old girl as the angst-ridden lycanthrope.
It boasts a smart, winning script and excellent
(actually, terrific) lead performances.
The screenplay, written by Karen Walton, draws
interesting parallels with lycanthropy and the
female menstrual cycle. The "Curse"
has double, and deeper, meaning here.
Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins,
Katherine Isabelle) are two Canadian teens, fond
of Goth-style clothing and with a decidedly different
outlook on life. They're trapped in a cookie-cutter
suburban hell of conformity. Naturally the pair
are treated as outcasts at their school, considered
weirdos and nerds by the in-crowd. Boys, with
their grasping, adolescent obsession with sex,
don't interest them in the slightest. Totally
disconnected from their clueless parents, Brigitte
and Ginger have only their inseparable sisterly
bond to hold their lives together. Both Ginger,
nearing her 16th birthday, and Brigitte, who's
14, are very late in having their first menstrual
cycles. One night Ginger is attacked by a werewolf
and nearly killed. Miraculously, her deep wounds
heal almost overnight. The girls realize that
whatever attacked Ginger wasn't an ordinary creature;
they're also aware that no one would believe them.
Very soon, however, Ginger begins to experience
changes in her body, coinciding with the arrival
of her first period. That these changes go far
beyond the norm becomes evident when Ginger notices
silvery wolf's hair growing from the fading scars
of her wounds...
and Isabelle are simply marvelous in their respective
roles. Brigitte's gangly, awkward exterior conceals
an astounding inner strength that allows her to
risk everything, including death — or becoming
a murderous werebeast herself — to protect and
help her sister. Isabelle, as Ginger, is completely
believable in her gradual transformation from
school freak to ravenous sexual predator, then
an inhuman killer, as the "beast within"
slowly attains dominance. As portrayed by these
terrific young actors, you'll come to care very
much about the characters' ultimate fate.
the stellar lead performances, there are other
differences of note from the standard B-grade
All the Hollywood werewolf conventions are tossed
out the window. Here "the change" is gradual —
not dependent on the full moon — and permanent.
The beasts can be slain by any weapon that would
kill a mortal. (They're still super-strong, with
lightning reflexes.) The creature effects are
decent, though director Fawcett opts to keep the
werewolves mostly in shadow — the movie does not
go the "show everything" route and is all the
better for it. Refreshingly, this is a teen-centric
(though certainly R-rated) horror film that does
not tread in the footsteps of Scream
or its imitators with their supposedly hipster-cool
ironic bent. There is some humor — genuinely sardonic
stuff — but it's actually funny.
are some flaws, sure. The film runs about 10 minutes
too long, and the character of the girls' loopy
mom (Mimi Rogers) simply drops out of the story
without explanation after an odd twist. Even so,
Ginger Snaps is a
damn good little B-movie. I thought they just
didn't make 'em anymore.