I feel like this might be one of my shorter entries in these Years of the Month. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say about Ginger Snaps, but more that it’s a movie I feel that not enough people have seen so I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Which, really, is a damn shame in terms of where horror movies were in the year 2000.
Picture this. There were a ton of teen-oriented horror films going on around here; you had your Final Destination films, your Scream sequels, the surprisingly good The Rage: Carrie 2. Toss in a weird piece like The Craft and it’s a whole slew of slick, teen-oriented horror flicks that sometimes worked and sometimes entertained and sometimes both. But then, then this little Canadian low-rent horror flick show up. And here is where I’m just going to dive into spoilers.
What do you do if your sister becomes a werewolf? And not in the “Hey, I like to pretend I’m a monster sort of way, like OOOH I’M A VAMPIRE!” But in the bitten-and-savaged-on-the-way-home, and you-start-getting-the-obvious-symptoms-of-hair-and-bloodlust way. You’re already on the outs at school because you’re the gothy sisters who like films like Harold And Maude. But somehow, being bitten makes you more forward and almost alive and part of life at high school. What if your sister feels left behind?
Here’s where this movie, that could be just another ‘90s teen horror movie, really elevates the material. Emily Perkins as the younger sister (Brigitte) and Katharine Isabelle as her old, bitten sister (Ginger), are so damn good as sisters who obviously love each other while also occasionally being exasperated by each other. The circumstance of Katharine being bitten just exacerbates their love for each other while at the same time accentuating their problems. They’re both apparently late in starting menstruating, and when Ginger does that’s just another disconnect between them.
I seriously love this movie for this. This is a tale of sisters, who are growing apart both by natural and by unnatural forces, and how they choose to deal with it. Ginger starts…changing and doing her own thing, and Brigitte is feeling left behind as she tries to deal with it. What’s great is that Brigitte is feeling angry and resentful, but she’s also trying to help. (Of course, part of the help is also by watching Werewolf movies and taking notes, so take that as you may.) On the other hand, she does restrain Ginger’s werewolf impulses by giving her a silver navel ring, maybe one of the most year-2000 things in a movie ever.
I really need to mention Mimi Rogers as their mother. She’s a person who can’t stand bad language and she likes making appliqued sweaters, but she’s also far too smart about the problems around her daughters. There is a moment in this where she finds a finger joint in the house, contemplates it, and makes the weird, practical decision to put it in some Rubbermaid. I have a weird enjoyment of practical people in horror films and hoo boy is Mimi a good example here.
If you’re a horror fan of the last eighteen years or so, this is really worth watching as Katharine Isabelle’s coming-out party: this would lead to her excellent work with the Soska sisters and with Bryan Fuller. She should be a huge horror star, as well as Emily Perkins. But at least we have this, their excellent one film together that should be better regarded as a little classic of horror and adolescence and sisterhood.