Brigitte was out in the garage, rounding up supplies, when her neighbour began to shriek hysterically. “It got our dog! It got Baxter!”
“Baxter is fertilizer… And everyone is, like, staring.” Brigitte (Emily Perkins) explained a moment later to her sister, who was sitting hunched over on her bed, applying a vicious-looking knife to her pale, narrow wrist. Brigitte goes on about the attack, but she is speaking primarily to herself. Her sister, Ginger (Katherine Isabelle), has other preoccupations.
“Wrists are for girls,” The pretty redhead exclaims, falling backward onto her bed in a way most befitting a teenage angster. “I’m slitting my throat… You should definitely hang.”
The twisted sisters are close, perhaps too close. The younger, more rational Brigitte can’t seem to find her way out from under big sister Ginger’s shadow. They do everything together, and have no friends but for each other. They even share a room. They also share a secret death pact, first declared when the girls were small children: “out by 16 or dead in the scene, but together forever. United against life as we know it.”
The girls have put together a pictorial for an assignment they have been given in class on Life in Bailey Downs. The sisters produce a slideshow featuring shockingly gruesome images of the two of them cloaked in grim death, their lives used up in a variety of ways, ranging from profuse pill hunger to lawnmower entrapment. While their teacher, “sickened” by the display, requests that the girls report to the Guidance Office, one of the Jock Cocks in the class (Jesse Moss) requests to see the photographs of Ginger again. The eldest sister smiles coyly. Her powers of sexual attraction are new to her, and she is yet unsure how to use them.
The Fitzgerald sisters are in a class all their own, really. They have no desire to fit in with their schoolmates, choosing instead to huddle together as though in a protective stance against all possible intrusions. To say they’re not the sort of girls who get invited to a lot of parties would be a fierce understatement. “High school is just a mindless, breeder machine. Total hormonal toilet. I’d rather wait it all out in our room.”
Unfortunately, Brigitte’s wish simply cannot be. After a field hockey altercation with Miss Teen Popularity, Trina Sinclair (Danielle Hampton), the Fitzgerald sisters vow revenge. Or, rather Ginger vows revenge, while Brigitte merely goes along for the ride, as is her usual practice.
That’s why the Big Buddha made me; to stop them.”
The prank the girls have in store for Trina is diabolically mean: they take some of their leftover photo shoot gore, and go out on a late night mission to swap the bimbo’s dog for a pile of quivering “remains,” to make the snob think her poor pooch has been claimed by the Beast of Bailey Downs. On the way to Trina’s house, the girls stumble across something much better than their plastic bag of makeshift meat: a fresh, mangled kill, presumably that of another neighbourhood dog. Brigitte notes that the carcass is still warm.
Out of the surrounding trees comes a lightning-quick predator to snatch Ginger, screaming, out of sight. Calling desperately to her sister, Brigitte enters the woods to find Ginger pleading for her life while a giant wolf tears her to bloody shreds. Brigitte finds the courage to fend off the animal with a bludgeon, and the girls flee the woods together. The wolf creature is hot on their tracks, until a speeding van finally comes between them. In shock, the sisters continue to make their way home.
Oddly, by the time they reach the safety of their room, Ginger’s wounds have already begun to heal. She convinces Brigitte not to call for a doctor, and more importantly, not to tell Mom.
Ginger is going through a difficult time, developmentally. She’s recently been blessed with a functioning menstrual cycle (better late than never), and she is just now coming into power as a sexual being. She suddenly finds she has a lot more time for the Jock Cocks. But there are other things, too. Weirder things; like the white fur growing out of the wound from her animal attack.
Brigitte lays the werewolf card out on the table, but Ginger only laughs, and thanks her sister for taking her hormonal problems so seriously. The two of them continue drifting apart as Ginger’s hunger to blossom into wolfey womanhood deepens. She can’t help it if Brigitte is immature, and not ready to move on yet.
In a schoolhouse scene reminiscent of Scott Teen Wolf Howard’s triumphant showing at the Spring Dance, Ginger shows up in locker alley with a new attitude, and hot new look, to boot! All her peers drop what they are doing in order to: stop, stare, and go: “Ooooooo!”
Her sister Brigitte is not amused, but she’s got other pots boiling on the stove. Suddenly, she’s a major point of interest for the cute Campus Drug Dealer, Sam (Chris Lemche), who hit the animal that attacked Ginger on that fateful night. He produces from his pocket a Polaroid snapshot of the beast that Brigitte had dropped near his van. He mentions the word “lycanthrope,” and Brigitte’s blood runs cold.
and why you were running for your life from it.”
Fearing he is getting too close to the topic she has been secretly researching on her sister’s behalf, Brigitte rushes off without giving the boy any more of her time, or even her name. Later that night, she realizes the stakes are much higher than she estimated, when she discovers her sisters’ little nub of a tail.
She is forced to seek out the Campus Drug Dealer in the morning to enlist his help. For the sake of protecting Ginger’s secret, she tells him that she was the one who was bitten. Brigitte knows she hasn’t much time to stop the change, as the moon is nearing the completion of its cycle. On top of that, Ginger is ovulating, and suddenly the easiest girl in school. In the backseat of Jock Cock’s car, a certain kind of magick happens.
but it’s to tear everything to fucking pieces.”
Ginger leads Brigitte to her victim’s final resting place, next door. The fat kid in the hockey outfit just won’t be the same without his yappy, little dog, Norman.
Brigitte takes Ginger to meet with her new friend Sam, as Ginger is suspicious of his willingness to help. The young apothecary produces a horticultural text on the benefits of monkshood in curing humans of uncharacteristically wolfish behaviour, while Ginger engages in territorial pissings with her sisters’ new boyfriend before taking off in a jealous huff.
A terrible accident occurs during yet another altercation with Trina Sinclair, who finds herself unable to cry over the spilled milk she slips on, mostly because she is irrefutably dead. Brigitte and Ginger scramble to clean up the mess before their parents get home, oh-so-narrowly avoiding catastrophe.
Brigitte lays down the law: keep Ginger hidden until her fate is certain, then get the fuck out of Dodge, together. Just as they had always planned.
Things continue to unravel for the Fitgerald sisters. Their mother knows that the police are seeking to question them about Trina Sinclair’s disappearance. It is during a fumbling lecture that Brigitte discovers a bunch of monkshood, which Mrs. Fitzgerald (Mimi Rogers) has just purchased from a craft store for a flower arrangement. Brigitte promises her sister that she will learn how to use it, and that the two of them will run away together, before it’s too late. When Brigitte slips out to confer with Sam, she barricades Ginger in the bathroom.
In a tender moment following numerous scenes of alchemistic eye candy, Sam indicates to Brigitte that he has seen through her rouse all along: "Understand that you may kill her trying to save her." Brigitte leaves Sam, and returns home to find that Ginger has broken out of the bathroom. The hunt begins…
Did I mention it just happens to be Halloween? Brigitte encounters Jock Cock, who has come down with the same illness as her sister, assailing a little trick-or-treater, and is forced to use her anti-werewolf potion on the foamy-fanged lad. She is relieved to discover that the solution Sam cooked up for her works! Cock Jock wakes up from his wolven frenzy, as though from a bad dream. Now that Brigitte has the cure, it is even more imperative that she find Ginger before it’s too late.
Ginger is in the Guidance Office, pretty far-gone on the lycanthrope scale, standing amid the bloody aftermath of her latest kill. Once again, younger sister must help big sister clean up after her indulgent atrocities. Meanwhile, in the midst of a little backyard gardening, their parents unearth a chunk of Trina Sinclair. Mrs. Fitzgerald assures her husband that the severed fingers are merely props left over from the girls’ death project, but the look on her face suggests that she isn’t buying her own excuse.
Before Brigitte can make it back to the Guidance Office with some commercial strength cleaning supplies, Ginger finds herself another chew toy. This time, it's the kindly, old Asian janitor who has taken a shining to the younger Fitzgerald sister.
you know? Every move, right on the fucking dot...
I’m a goddamn force of nature.
I feel like I could do just about anything..."
Ginger eyes her sister strangely, almost sexually. Eating her would be like fucking her. A look of panic washes over Brigitte’s face, but Ginger doesn’t want to eat her. She wants to be with her, always. Like a new pact.
“No, you said you’d die with me,
because you had nothing better to do.”
Ginger erupts in anger and takes off, leaving Brigitte lying in the corridor to contemplate the final showdown, which is inevitable. The stage is set: there is a big, Halloween bash going down at the greenhouse where Sam the Knowledgeable Drug Dealer cultivates his herbs. As soon as she can get to her feet, Brigitte puts her combat boots to pavement and races there. A van pulls up beside her as she attempts to hitch a ride. It’s her mother. She knows about Trina Sinclair, and wants to help. She isn’t about to let anything happen to her Tiny Babies.
Mrs. Fitzgerald waits in the car while Brigitte makes her way inside the greenhouse to claim her sister. She finds her in the back room, making advances on Sam. Brigitte has had enough of her sisters’ selfishness. She takes up a blade, and exchanges blood once again with Ginger.
that isn’t about you...
Now, I am you.”
Suddenly, Ginger’s voice takes on a considerably more testosteroney quality, and they realize that the sand has nearly drained from the hourglass. Soon, the moon will be full, and if Ginger’s transformation isn’t stopped before then, there will be no turning back for her. They leave their mother at the party, and take off with Ginger in the back of Sam’s Mystery Mobile to “get the stuff” (monkshood). Wolfed to the Max at this point, Ginger breaks loose from the vehicle and heads into the house for a game of hide and seek.
While cooking up a batch of Werewolf B. Gone in the pantry with Brigitte, the dashing, young Sam slaps her with a tempting proposition: take the cure herself, and run away with him. But Brigitte already belongs to another. True to her sister to the foreseeably-bitter end, she insists they persevere.
Kiss your boyfriend goodbye, Brigitte…
Ginger serves Sam up as an offering to her little sister. Brigitte tries to resist the allure of his syrupy, crimson essence, but suffers a momentary lapse of reason due to the fact that she is feeling somewhat wolfey herself, of late. Sam is choking on his final breaths while the Fitzgerald sisters lap up the blood flowing from his wounds.
Her humanity returned to her in an instant, Brigitte refuses to become what Ginger has become. The climactic final showdown between them takes place, appropriately enough, in the bedroom they shared for so many years.
Ginger lunges, falling on Brigitte’s blade. The broken beast that lies gasping in a pool of its own blood dies in her sisters’ arms.
I always cry when I watch this movie through to the end. I am wiping a salty stream from my face even as I write this, in fact. Ginger Snaps triggers my empathic nerve because of the fact that I see so much of myself in it. My own sister and I are a lot like Ginger and Brigitte, right down to the colourful, oh-so-typically Canadian lingo which spews from their mouths in every frame. We look out for one another, protect one another, and love one another almost to the exclusion of all else.
The taut tale, written by Karen Walton, was lighthearted and comical at times, while never losing sight of the end goal, which was to produce a serious horror film. Ginger Snaps delivers top-notch tension and suspense, teamed with fabulously-gory makeup effects. John Fawcett’s direction of this picture is superb; the only complaint I have is that some of the scenes ran a little long to me, and could possibly have benefited from being edited down. However, I can’t help but feel that the long, loving gazes the lens would fix on the Fitzgerald sisters was an indication of the director’s obvious passion for the story, and the characters which live in it.
Or, perhaps he was simply as captivated as I was with the unmistakable chemistry between Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald. While both of the young actresses did a remarkable job in the realization of their respective roles (particularly with regard to the special bond they shared as not only sisters, but also social outcasts), Ms. Perkins’ star outshines that of Ms. Isabelle considerably. Her execution of the strong, conflicted character, Brigitte, is nothing short of brilliant. While Isabelle’s performance hits all the right notes in leaving the viewer with a lasting impression of Ginger slowly becoming a sleek, sexy killer wolf, Perkins is absolutely effortless as she delivers one of the meatiest female performances in recent genre memory.
Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to say a few words about Mimi Rogers in the role of Mrs. Pamela Fitzgerald: Fan. Fucking. Tastic. A true, comedic ninja, Rogers nails the cookie-baking, heart-to-heart talk-having, holiday print shirt-wearing mother directly and accurately to the wall, while John Bourgeois props her up as the Clueless Husband.
A number of sequels (and even a prequel) have followed this original title, but none of them have even come close to achieving the perfectly-balanced level of technical prowess, artistic brilliance, and undeniable screen magic as the initial effort.
5/5 Kitty Skulls = Pick of the litter!