If you’re familiar with the horror genre then you’ve probably heard of Ginger Snaps. Even still, I had almost no idea what I was getting into when I sat down to watch it. Did I know it was a werewolf movie? Sure. Anything past that was a mystery, however, but I like my movies completely without expectation anyway.
We start the film with two teenage girls obsessed with death and classic suburban 90’s tropes (considering it was released in 2000, I’ll still consider this to have 90’s elements). Neighborhood dogs are being killed by some unknown beast but no one seems too worried about it, kids making jokes and parents not seeming very concerned. This immediately gives the movie the feel that it’s in some other dimension where werewolves are somewhat commonplace. They give the unknown thing an ominous name like “The Beast of something” (totally forgot what the name of the town is), which contradicts that idea but whatever. The whole beginning feels kind of strange (a feeling that doesn’t exactly let up, now that I think about it).
One theme of this movie that I found very interesting and left me with a couple questions (more on that later) is female puberty. Towards the beginning of the film, Ginger gets her period for the first time (she’s 16 so this is a bit strange) and this is played upon through the film.
*spoilers but the kind you could probably piece together on your own*
Moving right along past the high school drama of boys being stoner idiots and girls being vapid sluts (not my opinion, just the trope), Ginger and her sister Brigitte are in a park late at night with the plan to fake the death of a dog belonging to a girl they don’t like. While in the park, Ginger is attacked by a werewolf. In a pretty intense scene, she’s dragged into the woods and Brigitte chases after her. They eventually escape the wolf and run into the street where the wolf chases them and gets hit by a car. This is one spin on werewolves that Ginger Snaps does: the wolf is dead after being hit by the car. No silver or wolfsbane for these guys. They can die just like anything else.
Ginger and Brigitte go back home and Brigitte wants to call an ambulance but they soon realize that Ginger’s wounds are healing. Brigitte is rightly freaked out by that but Ginger brushes it off, saying she’s fine and she’d rather not cause any more trouble by going to the hospital. As anyone could’ve guessed, this leads to a chain of events of her slowly turning into a werewolf.
*I’d say stop reading now if you want to watch this movie*
One incredibly cool thing about Ginger Snaps is the slow and steady transformation that Ginger goes through. We watch her first sprout little tufts of gray hair, then she begins to grow a tail, her fingernails become more claw-like, and towards the end, her eyes and face become more wolf-like. I thought this was a very cool spin, instead of having one big transformation when the full moon comes (though we do get this at the end). Ginger’s attitude also changes quite a bit and she starts to become a lot more sexual (remember the puberty theme). Brigitte is left more or less alone, while her sister who was her only friend starts to hang out with the popular kids/stoners and ditch their previous loner attitude. Brigitte realizes how weird Ginger is becoming and looks to the local drug dealer for help. Let me backtrack for a sec here, Sam (the drug dealer) is the one who hit the wolf that night and implied heavily that he knew it was a werewolf. Brigitte and Sam start doing research together, trying to find some way to cure Ginger. They believe that lycanthropy is actually an infection that slowly consumes the person from the inside. They try a silver belly button ring since pure silver is known to help fight infections. This does not work and they find a plant called Monkshood (an offshoot of Wolfsbane) but it is a spring plant and it is October, so chances of finding some are slim to none.
In comes the weird fuckin’ mother of Ginger and Brigitte. Through the whole movie, the mom is just so weird and I have a lot of questions about her, but more on that later. She’s very overbearing and it seems at the beginning that she’s just the typical suburban mom trope but slowly through the movie she becomes something more, starting with her having Monkshood in the house right when Brigitte needs it.
Ginger has by now infected another person (a boy she has sex with) and has killed a dog or two. This quickly escalates to her getting into fights and the accidental death of the girl previously mentioned in their kitchen. Brigitte and Sam turn the Monkshood into an injectable serum which she tests on the boy Ginger infected, and it works. The movie quickly becomes a race against time, however, as Ginger is getting more and more out of control and the next full moon is steadily approaching. She starts killing people for fun and is becoming more and more wolf-like.
I’d like to take a second to talk about Ginger and Brigitte’s mother because I feel like there are a lot of unanswered questions. In the beginning of the movie, Ginger complains about back cramps and the mom is very intrusive about asking if she’s getting her period. At the time it seems like the mom is just being overly pushy but I started to develop a different theory through the movie. All through the film, the mom asks Brigitte what’s going on, what’s wrong with Ginger, etc. but she seems like she almost already knows. This lead to my theory that by the end of the movie we would have a Teen Wolf moment, where it wasn’t Ginger’s being bit that made her into a werewolf but genetics. I thought that the mom was curious about her daughter’s period because that is when her werewolfism would start to show. This was further supported in a later scene where Brigitte is about to go into a party where Ginger has run off to (and where Sam is) to try and get her to come home and cure her. Sitting in the car, the mom says that this is all her own fault. She heavily implies here that she knows something about what’s happening to Ginger. She has also kept two fingers of the girl they accidentally killed (the mom found them in the yard) and is holding them in a Tupperware container through this whole scene. She goes on to say that they can fill the house with gasoline, light a match with the father inside, and disappear “just us girls”. I don’t know about any of you who saw this movie, but I am so confused! What the hell is going on with the mom? Do you guys agree that maybe she does know about the lycanthropy and/or maybe this is a Teen Wolf situation? Is this cleared up in any of the sequels? Let me know in the comments.
I can feel myself rambling here so let me wrap up. The ending of this movie was a major downer, with Brigitte stabbing Ginger and killing her instead of injecting her with the cure and holding her until she stops breathing. Sam is also killed by Ginger (which sucks cause I really liked him). I don’t quite get the message here because I’m quite sure that it’s not trying to say periods will kill you. Brigitte easily could’ve injected Ginger but stabbed her instead. Is this because Brigitte knew Ginger would never be the same? Was she worried the serum wouldn’t work because Ginger had gone full wolf? She looked surprised that she had stabbed Ginger, so maybe it was instinctual? Though I’m upset that they didn’t save Ginger, I’ve come to expect downer endings from werewolf movies. Even comedies like An American Werewolf in London ends poorly. Ginger Snaps really defied most of the norms for werewolf movies, though, so I was surprised and kind of disappointed in the ending.