This week we tackle a classic theme in the horror genre: WEREWOLVES. However rather than start with what might be thought of as the typical classic werewolf movies we decided to watch Gingersnaps, a canadian release from 2000 which explores the werewolf narrative through the eyes of teen girls.
A heads up that this film and our discussion of it touches on subjects like animal death, gore, discussion of sex, drugs, and suicide. Additionally we will be fully spoiling the movie and we feel your experience will be a lot better if you watch this movie in particular before listening to the podcast. The plot is fairly complicated, there are some cool twists, and we don’t want any of those to be dampened by spoilers ahead of time, so if you haven’t seen it and wish to, pause now and come back when you’re ready! We’ll be waiting.
Ginger Snaps is a 2000 Canadian horror film directed by John Fawcett who would later go on to co-create the popular tv show Orphan Black. The film was written by Karen Walton, scored by Mike Shields, with cinematography by Thom Best and editing by Brett Sullivan.
The film opens in the community of Bailey Downs. In a shot reminiscent of Poltergeist, the camera pans across grotesquely similar houses that have metastasized on the natural landscape in a relatively new housing development. The opening shots linger on the edge of the development where the cookie-cutter houses give way to the wilds of nature.
We witness the early and horrific discovery of a family dog’s remains, victim of an apparent animal attack and, we find out soon, only one in a series of such incidents. As the woman who discovers the dog screams in the background, we see her neighbor and central character, Brigitte Fitzgerald (played by Emily Perkins) walking cautiously out of the garage armed with a variety of dangerous looking tools including a blowtorch.
Hunching her shoulders, glaring angrily at the world, pale faced and gothic, Brigitte enters the house to tell her sister, Ginger Fitzgerald (played by Katharine Isabelle) about the neighbors dog, interrupting what at first appears to be a suicide attempt. It is clear in a moment that Ginger is just showing off or playing at the theme of suicide, adopting a bored-of-life attitude that reeks of teen angst. After some angry banter we realize the girls have adopted identities as gothy town outcasts and have promised each other to escape their dreary town by 16 or else die in a suicide pact.
We transition to a typical high school. After a classroom scene where the girls cause a stir with their suicide themed class project, we cut to gym class outside with boys ogling girls playing field hockey. Ginger and Brigitte fight with Trina Sinclair, a popular girl and apparent bully. Coming out on the short end of that exchange, Ginger cajoles Brigitte into kidnapping Trina’s dog. That night, in the middle of executing that plan Ginger finds she is bleeding and realizes with horror that she is the first of the sisters to get her period.
Drawn by the scent of blood, a beast in the night viciously attacks and bites Ginger, dragging her into the forest. In a panic Brigitte runs after her and tries to scare off the beast with the flash from her instant camera. The beast is startled and runs off, immediately killed after being hit by a van driven by Sam Miller (played by Kris Lemche), a local pot dealer and, we find out later, botany nerd.
Ginger recovers from her attack, horrible wounds healing rapidly, and a series of physical and behavioral transformations begin. Her latent anger and aggression boil over, bristly hair grows in her scars from the attack, a tail buds at the base of her spine, and her period intensifies. Previously hidden under layers of clothes she strides into school in a tight outfit and with new self assurance.