ⓘ Ginger Snaps (film)


ⓘ Ginger Snaps (film)

Ginger Snaps is a 2000 Canadian horror film directed by John Fawcett and starring Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle. The film focuses on two teenage sisters who have a fascination with death. It is the first installment in the Ginger Snaps series, followed by Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. Its reputation includes a large cult following and significant critical acclaim.


1. Plot

In Bailey Downs, a rash of dog killings has been occurring. Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald are teenage sisters who harbour a fascination with death and, as children, formed a pact to die together. One night, while on the way to kidnap a dog owned by school bully Trina Sinclair, Ginger begins her first period, which results in the girls being attacked by the creature responsible for the maulings. The creature wounds and bites Ginger, but Brigitte rescues her. As the girls flee, the creature is run over by a van belonging to Sam Miller, a local drug dealer. Ginger decides not to go the hospital as her wounds heal quickly.

Following the attack, Ginger undergoes physical and mental transformations that concern Brigitte. Ginger starts to behave aggressively particularly in a sexual way, grow hair from her wounds, sprout a tail, and menstruate heavily. Ignoring Brigittes warnings, Ginger has unprotected sex with a classmate named Jason, furiously beats Trina in public, and kills a neighbors dog. Brigitte and Sam agree that Ginger was attacked by a werewolf and is in the process of turning into one. On Sams advice, Brigitte persuades Ginger to have her navel pierced using a silver ring in the hopes of curing her, but it proves ineffective. Sam then suggests a monkshood solution, which is impossible as the plant is only found in the spring.

Later, Trina shows up at the Fitzgerald house to accuse Ginger of kidnapping her dog. As she fights with Ginger, Trina is accidentally killed from slipping on milk and hits her head on the kitchen counter. The sisters narrowly avoid their parents, hiding the body in a freezer, and explaining the blood as part of another school photo project. Brigitte accidentally breaks off two of Trinas fingers while trying to remove the corpse from the freezer, and the fingers are misplaced while burying Trina in the tool shed. Brigitte tells her sister she cant go out anymore, but Ginger remains defiant.

On Halloween, Brigitte takes monkshood purchased by her mother for a craft project and asks Sam to make the cure. While trying to track down Ginger, Brigitte is attacked by Jason who was infected by Ginger due to unprotected sex and she defends herself by using the monkshood on him. She witnesses his immediate change in behavior, which proves it is a cure. At school, Brigitte discovers that Ginger has murdered the guidance counselor and witnesses her killing the school janitor.

The girls mother finds the fingers and Trinas corpse, and goes looking for her daughters. During the search, she drives past a running Brigitte and picks her up. As she drives Brigitte to the Greenhouse Bash, she tells her that she will protect them and the three of them will run away together; she will burn the house down by letting it fill up with gas, then light a match to erase evidence of Trinas death. Brigitte arrives to find Sam rejecting Gingers advances. As he approaches Ginger, she breaks his arm. In despair, Brigitte infects herself with Gingers blood as Sam pleads with her not to do so. She does this to convince Ginger of her love and loyalty to her sister and her genuine willingness to help her, ending their long fight. Ginger agrees to be helped, but, as the sisters leave, Sam knocks Ginger out with a shovel. Brigitte and Sam then take her back to the Fitzgerald house in his van, and prepare more of the cure for Ginger.

Ginger fully transforms into a werewolf on the way home and escapes the van. Aware that she has transformed, Sam and Brigitte hide in the pantry as he makes the cure. When Sam goes to find Ginger, a transformed Ginger attacks him. Brigitte picks up the dropped syringe and follows the blood trail downstairs. After finding Sam, injured and bloody, she tries to save him by drinking his blood in an attempt to calm Ginger, but is unable to keep and go through with it. Ginger sees Brigittes revulsion and kills Sam in front of her, biting him in the jugular.

As Ginger stalks Brigitte through the basement, Brigitte returns to the room where they grew up. Finding the knife that Ginger had been using to try to remove her tail, Brigitte holds the syringe with the cure in one hand and the knife in the other. Ginger lunges at her, and into the knife, accidentally killing her. Looking at a picture of both sisters on the wall, Brigitte lays her head upon her dying sisters chest and sobs.


2.1. Production Development

In January 1995, writer/director John Fawcett "knew that he wanted to make a metamorphosis movie and a horror film. He also knew that he wanted to work with young girls." He talked to screenwriter Karen Walton, who was initially reluctant to write the script due to the horror genres reputation for weak characters, poor storytelling, and a negative portrayal of women. However, Fawcett convinced Walton this film would re-interpret the genre.

The two encountered trouble financing the film. They approached producer Steve Hoban, with whom they had worked before, and he agreed to produce the film. Hoban employed Ken Chubb to edit and polish the story, and after two years they were ready to seek financiers.

Motion International committed to co-financing and Canadian distribution, and Trimark Pictures agreed to be the co-financier, U.S distributor and international sales agent. The film seemed ready to go into production by fall of 1998, however negotiations with Trimark caused the producers to miss the budgeting deadline for Telefilm Canada, the Canadian federal film funding agency. Rather than go ahead with only 60% of the funding, Hoban decided to wait a year for Telefilms funding. During this interval Trimark dropped the film. Lionsgate Films, who Trimark would end up merging with in 2000, took Trimarks place, and Unapix Entertainment agreed to distribute the DVD. The films budget was $4.5 million.


2.2. Production Casting

Casting the two leads met with substantial difficulty. While a casting director was easily found for Los Angeles, Canadian casting directors proved to be appalled by the horror, gore, and language. When one finally agreed to pick up the film, the Columbine shooting and another school shooting in Alberta suddenly thrust the public spotlight on violent teens. The Toronto Star s announcement that Telefilm was funding a "teen slasher movie" met with a flurry of debate and outrage in the media, which generated a significant amount of adverse publicity in proportion to the size of the project.

Casting took place in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Perkins and Isabelle auditioned on the same day at their agency in Vancouver, reading to one another off-camera. When their taped auditions arrived, screenwriter Karen Walton said that they were exactly as she had pictured the characters.

Coincidentally, both actresses were born in the same hospital, attended the same pre-school, elementary and private schools, and are at the same agency. Perkins was twenty-two at the time and Isabelle four years younger, but Perkins was cast as the younger sister.

Attention then turned to the next most important characters: the drug dealer and the mother roles. Mimi Rogers readily agreed to play the mother, Pamela, saying that she liked the black humour and comic relief in the role. Robin Cook, the Canadian casting director, put forward one of her favourites, Kris Lemche, for the role of drug dealer Sam. After seeing Kriss audition, Fawcett hired him.


2.3. Production Shooting

Principal photography took place between October 25 and December 6, 1999, lasting a little over six weeks. Three of Torontos suburbs, Etobicoke, Brampton Kris Lemches hometown, and Scarborough served as the suburb of Bailey Downs. Shooting outside during Torontos winter for sixteen hours a day, six days a week meant that sicknesses would make their rounds through the cast and crew every few weeks.

On the first day of shooting in the suburbs, all the still photographs for the title sequence were created. The bloody, staged deaths drew a crowd and Fawcett worried about upsetting the neighbours. The girls were covered in fake blood for the shots and, at the time, a homeowners basement served as their changing room. Each time they needed to change, someone had to distract the homeowners four-year-old child.

Long shooting days pushed the earliest possible start later each day until the scenes written for day were being shot after late into the night. The Director of Photography solved the problem by using diffusion gel and four eighteen kilowatt lamps which generated enough light to be seen a mile high in the sky.

The special effects proved to be a major hardship as Fawcett eschewed CGI effects, and preferred to use more traditional means of prosthetics and make-up. Consequently, Isabelle had to spend up to seven hours in the makeup chair to create Gingers metamorphosis and a further two hours to remove them. Often covered in sticky fake blood that required Borax and household detergent to remove, she further endured wearing contacts that hindered her vision and teeth that meant she couldnt speak without a lisp. The most aggravating thing was the full facial prosthetic which gave her a permanently runny nose that she had to stop with Q-tips.


2.4. Production Post-production

Beginning in December 1999, Brett Sullivan worked with Fawcett for eight weeks to create the final cut of the film. Despite the short time for editing the film was nominated for a Genie in editing. Despite a similarly tight schedule in the sound department, the film would also be nominated for a Genie in sound editing.


3. Release

Ginger Snaps premiered at the Munich Fantasy Filmfest in August 2000. The next month, it played at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival, where it briefly received media attention following the positive word-of-mouth it had built up from Munich. Although called one of the stand-outs of the Toronto festival, attention died off and the film followed an unfocused release strategy, playing at various film festivals and building up more word-of-mouth. Ginger Snaps was released to Canadian cinemas in May 2001. It grossed C$425.753 domestically, making it the fifth highest-grossing Canadian film between December 2000 and November 2001. Owing to a cult following, it has achieved significant video and DVD sales. These earnings, combined with moderate theatrical success abroad, led to the production of two further films.


4. Reception

The film has an 89% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 reviews; the average rating is 7.4/10. The sites consensus reads: "The strong female cast and biting satire of teenage life makes Ginger Snaps far more memorable than your average werewolf movie – or teen flick." Critics praise was centered on the quality of acting by the two leads, the horrific metamorphosis reminiscent of Cronenberg, the use of lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty, and the dark humour. Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club wrote that the film was "seemingly left for dead" after playing at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival but is now considered a cult film. It is ranked 78 on Time Out London s list of 100 best horror films, Tom Huddleston calling it "the best teenage werewolf movie, period".

Critics who panned the film thought the puberty metaphor was too obvious, the characters too over-the-top especially the mother, and the dark humour and horror elements unbalanced.

Because the film links lycanthropy to menstruation and features two sisters, Ginger Snaps lends itself to a feminist critique. "By simultaneously depicting female bonds as important and fraught with difficulties, Ginger Snaps portrays the double-binds teenage girls face." and "Ginger is an embodiment of these impossible binaries: she is at once sexually attractive and monstrous, natural and supernatural, human and animal, feminine and transgressive, a sister and a rival."


4.1. Reception Accolades

The International Horror Guild named Ginger Snaps the best film of 2001. Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema awarded it best film, best special effects, and best actress Perkins. The Toronto International Film Festival gave it a Special Jury Citation. Ginger Snaps won the first Saturn Award for best DVD release of 2002 from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA. Karen Walton won a Canadian Comedy award for Pretty Funny Writing for Ginger Snaps.

Ginger Snaps was nominated for Genie Awards in cinematography, editing, and sound editing.


5. Sequel and prequel

Based on successful DVD sales, both a sequel, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, and a prequel, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning, were filmed back-to-back in 2003. Even though Ginger Snaps 2 had a wider release than the original, it underperformed at the box office. Consequently, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning went direct-to-video.