Ginger Snaps

(Canada, 2000, 108 mins, 35mm)
CAST Emily Perkins, Katherine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers


The best Canadian horror movie of the noughties? John Fawcett set the bar high right in year zero with this energetic feminist twist on a tried and tested lore. Vampires, zombies and cat people may have their feminine side, but werewolves are almost always male. So when 16-year-old late-developer Ginger Fitzgerald starts experiencing heavy shit a couple of days after a hairy encounter with a savage dog, she automatically assumes it’s related to menstruation. But her kid sister Brigitte realises the true nature of Ginger’s lunar cycle, aghast as her former best friend in the whole world starts running wild with boys, staying out all night and leaving a trail of blood behind her. The film uncovers virgin territory in a genre we all thought had been flogged to death. It begins by establishing a bummed-out mood of suburban teen disaffection: Bailey Downs is a torpidly nondescript north American burg, hardly flattered by Fawcett’s forceful low budget handiwork. Just as the Fitzgerald sisters get their kicks by photographing each other in staged suicide scenes, the movie gives off an exploitation movie buzz belied by its obvious intelligence. From Brigitte’s 15-year-old perspective, lycanthropy is just a more extreme example of the gross hormonal hula hoops adolescence has in store; for Ginger, it’s confusing - she feels she’s grown a tail between her legs - but also liberating: ’I’ve got this ache, and I thought it was for sex, but it’s to tear everything to fucking pieces.’ With a trio of strong female performances (Isabelle is Ginger, Perkins her sister, Rogers her mom) and enough suspense to camouflage some dodgy special effects, this isn’t just a good horror movie, it’s a good movie.

Introduced by UBC Film Professor Ernest Mathijs, author of the recently published book "John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps". The first book-length study of this popular film, John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps is based on the author’s privileged access to most of its cast and crew and to its enthusiasts around the world. Examining themes of genre, feminism, identity, and adolescent belonging, Mathijs concludes that Ginger Snaps deserves to be recognized as part of the Canadian canon, and that it is a model example of the kind of crossover cult film that remains unjustly undervalued by film scholars.