Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning

  • 2004
  • 1 HR 34 MIN
  • R
  • Drama, Historical, Horror

The second sequel – actually a prequel -- to surprisingly witty distaff werewolf picture GINGER SNAPS (2001) was directed by Grant Harvey, GINGER's second unit director and producer of GINGER SNAPS 2: UNLEASHED (2004), and transplants a variation on the original story to the 19th-century Canadian wilderness. Having lost their parents in a shipwreck,...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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The second sequel – actually a prequel -- to surprisingly witty distaff werewolf picture GINGER SNAPS (2001) was directed by Grant Harvey, GINGER's second unit director and producer of GINGER SNAPS 2: UNLEASHED (2004), and transplants a variation on the original story to the 19th-century Canadian wilderness.

Having lost their parents in a shipwreck, sisters Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins) ride a single horse through the snowy woods, cold and alone but secure in their devotion to each other. They run across the ruins of an Indian village, where an elderly squaw gives them a matching pair of necklaces (fans of the GINGER films will recognize the necklace from the first film) and warns that "one sister will kill the other" unless they "kill the boy." Spooked, Brigitte stumbles into a leg-hold trap and while Ginger looks for help, a young native-American (Nathaniel Arcand) frees her, then escorts both sisters to a desolate commercial fort where the dead, buried in a small graveyard within the walls, clearly outnumber the living. Leader William Rowlands (Tom McCamus) offers them shelter, but the aura of misogyny, superstition and barely suppressed panic that permeates the small, all-male community is evident and fanned furiously by fire-and-brimstone preacher Reverend Gilbert (Hugh Dillon). Ginger and Brigitte soon learn that the fur trappers are anxiously awaiting the return of a trading party with supplies for the harsh winter ahead; the longer they wait, the clearer their unspoken suspicion that the party is never coming back becomes. Meanwhile, the fort is under nightly siege by something that howls in the dark, cold woods. Ginger, the bolder of the girls, leaves her room at night to investigate the sound of a crying child; the finds a boy, crouched in a corner, but when she reaches out to comfort him he turns and attacks her, his face a distorted combination of human and animal. The sisters soon figure out that the child is Rowlands' supposedly dead son, the victim of a werewolf's bite. And Ginger is infected as well: Can the sisters fulfill the prophecy before Ginger too is lost to the blood curse?

Though the story follows the same outline as the first film, the period setting – which strongly recalls Antonia Bird and Ted Griffin's bizarrely uncategorizable RAVENOUS (1999) -- casts its equation of female troubles and lycanthropy in an engagingly offbeat light. The balance and bond between sisters is restored – Isabelle's Ginger was reduced to a nagging spirit in the second film – and the ending achieves an uneasily poetic beauty.

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