“I get this ache… And I, I thought it was for sex, but it’s to tear everything to fucking pieces.”
Ginger Snaps is a horror cult classic all the way back from 2000, when many of our first- and second-years were born. It tells the tale of two sisters and their first steps into the freakish world of puberty, menstruation, and lycanthropy.
The film was originally banned from many cinemas in the UK, as it was then seen as a film which promoted teenage violence. However, it became one of the fastest selling horror flicks of all time when it came out on VHS, and for good reason too.
Ginger Snaps boasts not only some great acting on the parts of its two stars, Katherine Isabelle (Freddy vs Jason, Insomnia) and Emily Perkins (Juno, She’s the Man), but also occasional (though generally mature) dark humour. John Fawcett’s absolute refusal to use CGI of any sort also means that viewers get to see some stunning practical effects. This is probably for the best, considering that most CGI effects of the time looked less like the Cave Troll from Lord of the Rings and more like the deadly snake from Anaconda.
The film follows the Fitzgerald sisters: Ginger, played by Katherine Isabelle, and Bridgette, played by Emily Perkins, who share a macabre interest in morbid photography and all of its intricacies. Seen as social outcasts at their school, with an unhealthy attitude from Ginger to boot, the sisters consider themselves bound to one another before all others. That is, until the older, 16-year-old Ginger happens to get her first period… on the very same night she is attacked by a werewolf.
As it is in almost all werewolf films, the werewolf’s bite is infectious.
So unfolds a cleverly written and tragic story, using the curse of the werewolf as a sort of allegory for the odd and confusing period of time every teenager must suffer through at one point or another: puberty. When the girls ask the school nurse about Ginger ‘growing hair in weird places’, ‘frequent bleeding’, and ‘unnatural, carnal cravings’, how could anyone assume otherwise?
From there, the troubles only pile on, as Bridgette tries to find a cure for her seemingly doomed sister, while Ginger seems to be enjoying the hunger more and more. Her desires between natural teenage lust and sadistic murder seem to blend into one. The film’s ultimate question is: how long does Bridgette have to find the cure before Ginger Snaps?
The whole film, shot in only six weeks, had an estimated budget of only 5 million US dollars. This is a fairly low number, considering the budgets of some horrors today: The Curse of La Llorana cost about US$9,000,000, and IT: Chapter 2 costing an astonishing US$79,000,000. The controversy over teenage violence, however, meant that Ginger Snaps never made back anything close to its budget. It’s unfortunate; this is entirely unrelated to its high quality, clever dialogue, and intriguing plotline.
If there was ever a good basis on which to define ‘underrated’, it would most certainly be Ginger Snaps.
Featured image credit: Motion International