What It Feels Like for a Girl (Part Two: The Snappening)

As discussed yesterday, Ginger Snaps attained a certain level of cultish success, at least within horror circles, and relative to cost analyses for mid-to-low budget Canadian horror.  As is the way with horror, the idea of sequels became a consideration, however Ginger Snaps ended with a relatively conclusive story closure.  For one thing, how do you make a sequel to "Ginger Snaps" when Ginger is dead?  Well, the producers found two ways (or found writers who found ways) that differed as greatly from the original as they did from each other, and then released them both in the same calendar year.


Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed - 2004
Written by Megan Martin
Directed by Brett Sullivan

Following the events of Ginger Snaps, Brigette is now out on her own, laying low, and struggling to keep her own lycanthropic infection at bay.  The Brigette to whom we're re-introduced is still socially reclusive, but clearly stronger and more self-reliant as a matter of maturation through necessity.  Survival is a full-time occupation for Brigette, and she meticulously charts her physical changes, dosing herself on monkshood to fight her slide toward the wild side.  She's on her own, but not totally alone.  She's haunted (and taunted) by visitations (or delusions) of Ginger, particularly when she knows she's slipping.  When she overdoses on the poison to stave off a flare-up, she awakens to find herself in rehab, cut off from the resources she needs to stay in control of herself.

To a large extent, Unleashed plays like a "Women on the Psych Ward" thriller, or alternately, a "Just Say NO to Lycanthropy" after-school special about the horrors of monkshood addiction.  Brigette has to deal with fellow patients while her grasp on self-control is slipping away, an exploitative orderly with access to her medicine, and Ghost, the strange young girl who suspects Brigette's true nature, and just might know a way out of the hospital.  To make matters much worse, she can smell the male werewolf that stalks her, eager for a mate.  This plays into some distinctly sexual connotations about controlling the beast within.

In ways, this is the most horrific of the three Ginger Snaps films.  The humor of the original really didn't make the jump to the sequels.  There are definitely some ironic beats about rehab, but none of the satirical edge that so invigorated the original.  This is Brigette, the sullen one, alone against herself most of all.  If Emily Perkins had to carry the first film, she's bench pressing this one.  Katharine Isabelle's role amounts to little more than a cameo.  That makes Unleashed much darker with a greater sense of foreboding .  It's a high definition, slow motion train wreck as Brigette fights to avoid certain doom.  The ending feels a little undeserved, but it certainly fits the narrative arc of the film and the character.

Ah, there's one more thing that bears mentioning.  I took some issue with the soggy and hairless werewolf in the first film, but the sequels seem to demonstrate that the transformation is by-and-large a much more gradual process than we're accustomed to in other movies.  The werewolves grow more hair over time, the further they move away from being human.  In fact, they turn out to be some of the wolfiest werewolves (that aren't just wolves) in any of werewolf movie I've watched.

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning - 2004
Written by Christina Ray & Stephen Massicotte
Directed by Grant Harvey

"Together again... for the very first time!"

Rather than curing and/or resurrecting any characters for another go around, this is a sort-of prequel that inserts Ginger and Brigette into the origins of their curse.  Set in 1815, The Beginning tells the story of a time when the Wendigo's curse from native legends reached a transformative turning point on the Canadian frontier.  Traveling alone in the wilderness, the two girls with secrets behind them arrive at a frontier outpost in the dead of winter to find a dwindling troupe of soldiers and trappers with a few secrets of their own.

On one hand, this entry has the least humor of the bunch.  On the other hand, when Ginger responds to a tense and ominous dinner where simmering rage and racial, sexual & religious bigotry are on full display with "These people are fucked," it's clear that they're not taking themselves TOO seriously.

With a forest full of werewolves, an absent supply shipment and an atmosphere thick with paranoia and superstition, the Fitzgerald girls find themselves walking a precarious path between threats.  The only person who doesn't seem to be completely out of his mind is the native hunter, who just might be able to help them find some answers... if they don't all get killed first.

Ginger Snaps Back plays heavily on the threatening group dynamic.  Every interaction tugs threads of fear, tension and mistrust.  Additionally, it features the most outright carnage, closing things out with a bang.  Less is made of the sexual themes, unless you count the suspicions of the puritanical preacher (the type for whom everything is subtextually sexual) toward the girls.

If The Beginning had actually been the first film released, I doubt that Ginger Snaps would have become the kind of modest phenomenon that it did, but it's a sufficient excuse for getting the band back together one last time, and it's a dark little frontier adventure that metes out tension and a growing sense of fear from start to finish.

No comments:

Post a Comment