Nah, scratch that. Ginger and Brigitte are maladjusted 16 and 15 year old sisters whose idea of an art project at school is to present a sequence of photographs depicting themselves as suicide victims. They’re permanently disaffected and uncommunicative. They make goths look joyous and emos seem effervescent.
Kind of understandable really. They live in a dull, washed-out suburbia and have the embarrassment of the world’s perkiest mom (Mimi Rogers) who wears horrible sweaters, incessantly enquires as to whether they’ve had their period yet and sports pumpkin earrings at Halloween.
School’s not much better than home, populated as it is by asshole jocks like Jason (Jesse Moss) and bitch teen princess Trina (Danielle Hampton). It sucks, too, that going out at night is strictly verboten given the spate of vicious attacks on neighbourhood dogs. When an eviscerated canine turns up on the hockey field, Trina vengefully trips Brigitte so she falls face-first into the decomposing mess. (The catalyst for this act is Brigitte referring to Trina as a “cum bucket”.)
Planning retribution, Ginger and Brigitte sneak out at night with the intent of kidnapping Trina’s dog and leaving some of the fake blood and viscera from their “suicide” photographs outside its kennel. They never get there. Ginger, who has finally started her period, is attacked by a werewolf. Brigitte tries to fend the beast off and it’s only dispatched when passing drug pusher Sam (Kris Lemche) runs over it with his van.
In your average werewolf movie, this would be the point at which Ginger develops a tendency to sprout hair (which she does), howl at the moon (which she doesn’t) and randomly devour people (the movie has “snaps” in the title; take a guess). Director John Fawcett, working from a gem of a script by Karen Walton, does a hell of a lot more with the material. Allaying Ginger’s late menstruation with a different and more feral change – the tagline “they don’t call it the curse for nothing” sums up the concept pithily – the film becomes a metaphor for sexual awakening, female empowerment and the dangers of heightened self-awareness.
In short order, Ginger transforms from dowdy to foxy to downright fucking scary but still kinda sexy with it …
… and promptly starts smoking weed, arguing with Brigitte, pissing her mother off even more than usual, and hanging out with Jason the asshole jock. Initially Jason can’t believe his luck, particularly when Ginger comes on all hot and heavy during a back-seat make out. He soon gets scared, though. It’s bad enough when she takes the lead and starts treating him like a girl. Worse is Ginger’s extreme version of a love bite. The final straw is when Jason pisses blood. At this point, he rounds on Brigitte, wanting to know what the deal is with her sister.
Brigitte, still idolizing her big sis despite all the nasty shit that’s going down (this sentence perhaps explains why Sight and Sound are still reluctant to engage my services), has already put it together and, in league with Sam, is working towards a cure. However, thanks to Jason’s impeccable sense of bad timing and Mrs Fitzgerald interfering for all the right reasons at totally the wrong moment, Brigitte and Sam find themselves playing beat-the-clock as Ginger’s transformation reaches completion and they only have one shot at curing her.
‘Ginger Snaps’ is not only the best werewolf opus since ‘An American Werewolf in London’, it’s also an inspired black comedy, a razor-sharp and black-heartedly accurate high school movie, and a celebration of individuality, feminism and sisterhood. They say that blood is thicker than water. For Ginger and Brigitte, the question is whether blood is thicker than blood-lust.