Rabid GINGER SNAPS fans (pun intended) are probably going to flip their lids when I say this, but I have yet to see any of the original GINGER SNAPS movies until this one, the last in the series. I know, I know, I have some work to do. There is a huge cult surrounding the GINGER SNAPS trilogy, three Canadian movies surrounding the realization of a young teenage girl that she is, in fact, a werewolf. I know enough to know that the first two movies served as interesting metaphors for the transformation into puberty (apparently the character of Ginger was bitten by a wolf on the night of her first period). And while general critical consensus is that GINGER SNAPS BACK is the worst of the series, I still found it very intriguing and well-produced.
GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING deserves kudos for its experimental concept alone. While the first two films were set in modern day, this “prequel” actually places the two lead actresses and characters from those films in 19th Century frontier Canada. It’s an odd gamble, and perhaps if I had a stronger attachment to these characters already it may have not worked for me, but I found the concept interesting and totally went with it. The characters are the two sisters of Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald.
Ginger and Brigitte are apparently orphaned children who open the film by wandering through the wintery woods of Canada. They stumble across an Indian campground that has been torn apart by a vicious attack (could it be a werewolf? Hmmm….). Brigitte’s bad luck gets worse when she finds herself stuck in a bear trap. Luckily, a studly Indian guy we just know as The Hunter rescues her and takes the two sisters to a local fort, Fort Bailey.
Inside the fort, something strange is clearly afoot. The soldiers are in pissy moods, especially since the men they sent out to bring back provisions never returned. Or did they? Because now suddenly there are some strange beasts stalking the forts. There are some intriguing characters inside, particularly a priest whose religious ravings almost seem suitable to the setting. So between this nutty priest, the various paranoid soldiers, and the two girls (one of whom may or may not be a werewolf), we have the recipe for some good horror.
The die-hard GINGER SNAPS fans may not have enjoyed it, but I did. The production values and cinematography was incredibly moody and the cold winter fort made a strong impression. At times the paranoid atmosphere reminded me of the terrific RAVENOUS. Similarly, this film was not afraid to show us the gore and things get very very violent. The two young lead actresses (Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins) are very convincing. One complaint I heard is that this film lacked the element of comedy the first two did. Fair enough, this is a very straightforward horror film, but for what it was, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
RATING: *** (out of four)