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Ginger and Brigitte, two sisters trapped in suburbia, are obsessed with mayhem, torture and death until they get a taste of the real thing. Bitten by a wild animal, Ginger begins to mutate into a sexy, uncontrolled woman, with some nasty canine tendencies.
For more about Ginger Snaps and the Ginger Snaps Blu-ray release, see Ginger Snaps Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 23, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Mimi Rogers, Kris Lemche, Jesse Moss, Peter Keleghan
Director: John Fawcett
» See full cast & crew
Ginger Snaps Blu-ray Review
Two tough cookies.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 23, 2014
Is it time to retire that well worn phrase "damsel in distress?" Is there any masculine version of that cliché? Horror films would be hard pressed to dispense with that concept, let alone the actual term, for let's face it—a lot of what informs horror films is indeed women (often young and nubile) getting stalked or otherwise terrorized. Is that all there is to horror? Of course not, but girls in threatening circumstances have been a horror staple for so long that it's almost hard to think of the genre without such artifices. Ginger Snaps injects a little "grrl" power into the horror idiom, depicting two Goth sisters who initially come across as the kind of kids your parents always warned you to stay away from, but who then get swept up in a tale of lycanthropy. The film tries—perhaps a bit too hard—to meld the girls' pubescence with one of the sister's transformation into a werewolf, but through it all, the two females at the core of the story are frequently the predator rather than the prey, and that in and of itself sets this long controversial film apart from many of its genre siblings. Ginger Snaps, with its subtext of two roiling schoolmates who exact a certain amount of carnage on their teachers and classmates, was released when many were still in a state of shock from then relatively recent school shootings like Columbine. But Ginger Snaps isn't really about alienated youth—or perhaps more accurately isn't just about alienated youth. This is a horror film with perhaps more on its mind than the "mere" blood and guts that are regularly on display throughout its running time. The film may never quite make the connections it's seeking to, but it's often a fascinating and maybe even a valiant attempt.
The film opens with scenes of a blustery Toronto suburb, which in the film is given the name of Bailey Downs. In his commentary track included on this Blu-ray as a supplement, director John Fawcett talks about how the suburb is "oppressive" in the same manner as the suburb he grew up in, but a more objective eye might simply see rather nicely maintained yards and fairly grand homes in what is obviously a pretty well to do enclave. A woman rakes in the backyard as her child plays in a sandbox. The tot is playing with something which leaves a messy blood stain on his hands and face, and when the mother comes over to investigate, the first of several shocking reveals is offered: the family dog has been attacked and bisected, with its entrails spilling out across the yard.
Sneakily, Ginger Snaps then segues to the two focal sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) Fitzgerald. The two are dour, depressive sorts, obsessed with death (and a death pact they made as children), and there's an obvious (though misleading) implication that the two may have been involved in the pet mutilation (many child psychologists suggest that future serial killers begin with such activities when they're younger). However, for all of the girls' problems (which are quite evident), it turns out they're not involved with the dog killing, though in what turns out to be a major plot point, that doesn't keep them from plotting a similar attack on the pet of one of their nemeses at school.
That escapade actually sends the film careening into what turns out to be its real horror underpinning, when the girls are savagely attacked in a forest by—well, something. Ginger is badly bitten and whatever the beast is that's chasing them gets obliterated by a passing van, so the two assume it was some kind of feral dog. Any lover of werewolf films will of course come to a different conclusion, and the rest of Ginger Snaps details Ginger's steady transformation into a deadly beast. This particular transformation just happens to occur simultaneously with another one—namely, her entry into "womanhood" courtesy of her first period. The menstrual cycle is therefore closely bound up with the transformations into a wolf creature. It's a neat little gimmick, but it only fitfully works here, since there are only so many connections between these two disparate concepts that can be made.
Where this connection does work is in how Ginger's transformation (whether into human maturity or the form of a werewolf) finally gives her the inherent power that she at least thinks she's been lacking. Ginger Snaps actually works surprisingly well in this regard, detailing an outsider who suddenly is "in control", relishing the feelings of superiority that state brings. The odd thing about this is that the horror element almost tends to undercut Ginger's march toward self-realization, since in a very real way, she's actually losing herself to whatever lycanthropic force is taking hold of her.
The film does descend into a somewhat more cliché ridden apocalyptic finale, with Ginger marauding through a large swath of her high school while Brigitte attempts to figure out how to "clean up" the mess and heal her older sister. A too rote showdown between Ginger and Brigitte then unfolds, but that at least manages to impart the fact that while Ginger has been undergoing a rather radical transformation, in her own way Brigitte has been, too.
Ginger Snaps Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ginger Snaps is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. Shot on a very modest budget, Ginger Snaps ends up looking surprisingly well detailed most of the time in this new high definition presentation. Colors, while muted a lot of the time (the film takes place largely in autumn), are nicely saturated, and when the film gets into its Grand Guignol displays of blood and guts, the reds and oranges pop extremely vividly. The film is not overly sharp by contemporary standards, but close-ups still reveal excellent fine detail. While contrast is generally strong, the film is slightly hobbled by inadequate shadow detail, something that makes what's actually going on throughout the longish climax a bit hard to ferret out at times. There are no stability issues here, and the film retains a natural looking grain structure.
Ginger Snaps Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Ginger Snaps features both a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix as well as a really immersive and well done DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. While there's nothing at all to complain about in the 2.0 mix, those with surround systems will definitely want to opt for the 5.1 mix, as there has been great attention paid to widely splayed foley effects, good support of LFE, and nice dispersion of the moody score by Michael Shields. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand, and fidelity is excellent, with no problems of any kind to warrant any worry. Dynamic range is extremely wide, especially in the 5.1 iteration.
Ginger Snaps Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ginger Snaps Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ginger Snaps may not quite make all the connections it's obviously aiming for, but the film is notable for featuring two girls who initially seem powerless, but soon take matters into their own hands (and/or jaws). Some of the film's goofier elements, like a somewhat addle pated mom played by Mimi Rogers, are more distracting than anything, but this is one horror film that at least tries for something a bit more ambitious than just an increasing body count (though there's plenty of carnage for blood and guts fans). This new Blu-ray boasts solid technical merits and comes with a really impressive supplementary package. Recommended.
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Ginger Snaps Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Ginger Snaps Blu-ray Detailed - May 20, 2014
Scream Factory, the horror-thriller offshoot of independent film distributor Shout Factory, has detailed its upcoming Collector's Edition Blu-ray release of director John Fawcett's Ginger Snaps (2000), starring Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, and Kris Lemche. ...
• Scream Factory to Release Ginger Snaps on Blu-ray - January 31, 2014
Scream Factory, the horror-thriller offshoot of independent film distributor Shout Factory, has revealed the cover art for its upcoming Collector's Edition Blu-ray release of director John Fawcett's Ginger Snaps (2000), starring Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, ...
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