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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Ginger Snaps (2000)

"See, you let idiots get away with f***ing you up. That's why the big Buddha made me. To stop them."
- Ginger (Katharine Isabelle)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 30, 2001

Stars: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle
Other Stars: Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Danielle Hampton
Director: John Fawcett

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (graphic horror violence and adult situations)
Run Time: 01h:48m:11s
Release Date: October 23, 2001
UPC: 012236122111
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-BB D-

DVD Review

I love werewolf movies, especially werewolf movies that dare to put a fresh, new spin on things. Ginger Snaps is most definitely one of those. Deftly mixing raging teenaged hormones with the curse of lycanthropy, director John Fawcett's (The Boy's Club) fresh take on the world of hairy shape shifters is both funny and disturbing.

Teenage sisters, frumpy 15-year-old Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and gothically cute 16-year-old Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) live in the sprawling, yet lifeless subdivision of Bailey Downs. The girls have a very dark and macabre outlook on life, and enjoy staging and photographing graphically violent death scenes (impaled on a fence, run over by a power mower, skewered by a pitchfork) with each other. The opening title sequence features a bizarre montage of their work, and really sets the mood for what is to come. The girls have been given the freak/outcast treatment at school, led by the bitch queen Trina (Danielle Hampton). Meanwhile, some sort of monster, dubbed 'The Beast Of Bailey Downs' has been savagely murdering neighborhood dogs. Considering this film is called Ginger Snaps, it shouldn't surprise you that before long Ginger is brutally attacked by what turns out to have been a werewolf.

It's here where the screenplay by Fawcett and Karen Walton really gets cooking. For starters, in the universe of Ginger Snaps, the transformation from human into werewolf isn't something that occurs quickly, nor does it appear to be entirely reversible. Is it a virus? Is it controllable? The changes occur in stages, over a period of days, beginning with small tufts of fur that appear around the initial wound. As days pass, more hair grows, teeth get sharper, a tail appears, facial structure changes, and the taste for human blood and flesh rages completely out of control.

The script parallels Ginger's evolution into a werewolf with the onset of menstruation, and the volatile result of both. Her mother (Mimi Rogers) chalks up her older daughter's more bizarre mood swings to her "becoming a woman," and there are some very funny confrontational moments between the two. The scene where Brigitte has to tape down her sister's new tail before gym class is another good example of some of the odd humor that permeates Ginger Snaps. The mix of subtle humor and extreme gore is handled well by Fawcett, and by balancing the two he gives the film a real unique identity.

Most of the film focuses on the close relationship between Brigitte and Ginger, and how the werewolf curse begins to slowly unravel that closeness. As strange as some of their actions might seem to the 'normal' world, the two girls have a very tight bond together. Emily Perkins does an excellent job as Brigitte, which was a seemingly much more demanding role than the sexy Ginger. Perkins moves from distant goth-girl to lonely teen with a mere downward cast of her eyes, and her performance here is right on the money. As Ginger eventually moves through various, more intense stages of change, the frantic Brigitte is forced to finally seek help from the local drug-dealing hunk Sam (Kris Lemche).

Ginger Snaps is a new twist on an old legend, and it works very, very well. I really enjoyed this film, but disc-wise Columbia TriStar put out a loaded collector's edition (see the extras review below) in Canada. Make your choice accordingly.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This Artisan release is a pale shadow of the superior Columbia TriStar Canadian release which features a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Artisan has only included a 1.33:1 fullframe transfer on this disc, and that is really too bad. Another impressive almost blemish-free transfer, with a steady color palette that leans heavily toward reds and orange. Cinematographer Thom Best paints the cold and lonely world of the Ferguson sisters very well, including there completely antiseptic subdivision of Bailey Downs. Deep black levels give the night sequence when Ginger is attacked strong shadow delineation, as well as during the film's final werewolf transformation scenes. I can praise the image transfer up and down, but I can't forgive the lack of a widescreen version here. My grade here is strictly on image quality of this transfer, not on the format.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: As with the Columbia TriStar Collector's Edition, Artisan has released Ginger Snaps with 5.1 Dolby Digital track. While not an overly active 5.1 mix, it does provide a pretty dyamic sound field and solid spatial imaging The only sequences early on that make any substantial use of the rears are during the initial werewolf attack, which presents a nice spatial movement across the back speakers. Surround cues get more of a pronounced workout during the final act. The good news is that with the 5.1 track the dialogue, even the mumbly Brigitte, sounds crisp.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: A widescreen theatrical trailer is the only extra on this disc. You want extras? See the Columbia TriStar Collector's Edition of Ginger Snaps, which two(!) commentaries, a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, featurettes, deleted scenes as well as 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Creepy. Gory. Funny. Touching. Sexy. Ginger Snaps is another fresh look at the world of lycanthropy, and it is bolstered by a great, low-key performance by Emily Perkins.

The movie is recommended, this disc is not.

 


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