Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Scream started with the premise that every kid in high school knew the teenage slasher flick genre by heart and, therefore, why pretend? This low-budget Canadian film follows the same route, but from a different perspective. It's no joke, for one thing.

Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) are sisters. They live in a suburban home with a groomed dad and hands-on mom (Mimi Rogers) who talks to them like china dolls.

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Ginger is 16, Brigitte 15. For fun, they fake murders and suicides and have a death pact, which means if one dies the other kills herself. Menstruation becomes a big issue because it hasn't happened yet and the grown-ups can't wait to give advice and be patronising.

The girls are in rebellion against life. They want freedom from the safety of their uneventful existence and refuse to be told what to do. They consider prettier girls bitches and boys unmentionable. They are called freaks.

Outside the narrow confines of their sulky patch, odd things have been reported, such as the brutal killing of household pets. Have the sisters lost control, or is there a wild creature abroad? When Ginger is attacked in the woods and barely escapes alive, Brigitte knows instinctively what nameless horror awaits. Except, it is not nameless. Does their pact include the living dead?

The success of Ginger Snaps lies in the commitment of director John Fawcett, actors and writer Karen Walton. They don't go for the it's-behind-you pantomime approach that modern teenage horror movies enjoy. They take it seriously, which makes all the difference between empathy and objectivity. When the most responsible member of the school body turns out to be the in-house dope dealer, you know you cannot trust stereotypes.

The performances appear forced at first, as if these girls are only pretending to be off-the-wall, which is the point. They grow through fear. Perkins captures the confusion of role play, torn between loss and loyalty, discovering an ability to make decisions, while Isabelle thrives on her new identity, increasingly dependent on the blood of the innocent.

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2001
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Death-obsessed teenage sisters come in contact with a werewolf.
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Director: John Fawcett

Writer: Karen Walton

Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Jess Moss, Danielle Hampton

Year: 2000

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada


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