Strong female characters are not what you expect from a horror film. Usually, they are almost naked in the forest, tripping over a meddlesome branch. Or the virgin who watches her friends die but she gets to last for the entire film as her reward for not having pre-martial sex.
Fans of Orphan Black might not be surprised to learn that show-co-creator John Fawcett created Ginger Snaps.
Ginger and Brigitte are teenage sisters who are dark and have a fascination with death. They stand out quite a lot in the suburb of Bailey Downs (yes, Bailey Downs is also the home of Alison Hendrix from Orphan Black).
Neither sister has had their period yet. There are a lot of dog killings in the neighbourhood. Ginger finally gets her period, and as as result, is attacked by the creature. Soon, Ginger changes quite a bit.
Katharine Isabelle gives wonderful energy to the dark and horny Ginger. Emily Perkins plays the shy, smarter younger sister. They form an impressive team. The girls help each other out as things change.
This is definitely a horror film but not in the typical fashion. The film is smartly written; Fawcett co-wrote the screenplay with Karen Walton. (Full disclosure: I met Walton at a party in 2016. When she told me she wrote Ginger Snaps, my immediate reaction was "I love that film.")
Tying puberty and a sex drive to the changes Ginger goes through is a marvelous story-telling device that establishes layers into the script and what you see onscreen.
Ginger Snaps can be considered a feminist horror film. As we noted, Ginger Snaps might be one of the smartest horror films to pass the Bechdel test.
The fact that the film came out in 2000 also means the extensive makeup and effects are real and not CGI.
Ginger Snaps offers enough to scare people while being a satisfying film for those that aren't as much into the horror genre. There is no guarantee that you like Orphan Black that you will like Ginger Snaps. But if you can't get Orphan Black out of your head, you are likely to enjoy Ginger Snaps.
Peter Keleghan is his usual wonderful self as a guidance counselor in the school. Mimi Rogers plays the mother of the girls. Rogers gets what is going on and has as much fun as she can in her limited role.
There are subsequent versions of the Ginger Snaps series with Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (featuring a young Tatiana Maslany with blond hair) and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. The latter film transfers the characters to 19th century Canada. Also Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed doesn't have a whole lot of Ginger in the film. If you find you really love these characters, take a chance on the sequels. Otherwise, the original film is the best way to go.
If you are one of those people on Halloween who gets teased by your friends for not liking horror films, you can always come back with, "Well, I do like Ginger Snaps."
video credit: YouTube/ScreamFactoryTV
photo credit: Ginger Snaps film