Welcome to Anything Can Happen on Ryan-ween, where I watch (at least) 31 horror/thriller films in October, and chronicle my thoughts on them here. These be can be anything from horror comedies, slashers, Blumhouse-style 21st Century jump scare horror, Italian giallo, melancholy European horror, Japanese acid horror, and anything in between. Hopefully you guys will find something new explore here, and feel free to throw out a recommendation for something fun I haven’t seen.
The opening salvo, as it is for every Jyanween, is one of my absolute favorite horror films, the wildly underrated werewolf film/sisterhood drama, Ginger Snaps. It’s a simple tale of two morbid, outcast sisters, Brigitte and Ginger, tormented by school bullies and angry at the world. One day, when walking home, they come across a terrible creature, which attacks and injures Ginger. Soon after, Ginger begins going through changes. THE changes. Weird hair. Strange pains. Parts of her body changing.
Yes, that’s right, this werewolf movie also happens to be a film about PUBERTY. The werewolf metaphor has always been about masculine urges for so long, that’s it’s refreshing to see that writers Karen Walton and John Fawcett have coopted it into something so inherently feminine. Linking the horrors of growing up with the horrors of become a creature of the night is a clever twist, and that the writers, and Fawcett as director, are able to find the horror-humor balance so well is really an accomplishment. That Ginger at one point grows a tail is quite funny; that we find her later, attempting to cut it off, is absolutely horrifying.
Much of the success of Ginger Snaps lies in the performances of its leads. They each bring that healthy blast of angst that early 2000s films were known for , but it’s underlined with a flowing chord of pain. These are two girls who have obviously been bullied most of their lives, and their best way of defending themselves is to go interior and lash out at the world around them. Emily Perkins in particular carries this well, as her nervous, awkward energy is riveting to watch, as she rushes off when someone tries to start a conversation, and even has trouble meeting people’s eyes.
It’s balanced perfectly with Katherine Isabel’s rebel spirit, who, even before going through the change, would be the first to confront her bullies, even getting physical on more than one occasion. Once she does get bit, watching her transformation becomes one of the films highlights. Not only do we get to see her grow a tail and fangs, but also watch as Ginger uses that raw anger and refines into a sharp, demonic weapon. Isabel turns from angry teen to slinky femme fatale with gusto, and that wild ride is a joy to take in.
Though the two do fine work individually, it’s their chemistry that really makes the movie. Though there is very little physical similarity, you never doubt these two are sisters, as they exhibit that kind of friendly but biting relationship that you often see among siblings. They drive each other crazy, but you know they would do anything for each other (even damning themselves, as we find out by film’s end). Their two energies play in perfect harmony, even when Ginger hits the hardest parts of her transformation, and we see that even as Ginger becomes a monster, the bond between sisters is inescapable.
I can say with some certainty that Ginger Snaps is one of my favorite horror movies. It’s one of only about four movies I will see every year, and it has become a tradition to open every October with the film. If you haven’t seen it, I envy you the journey, and if it’s been a while, go ahead and give it a spin: you may find treasures here you hadn’t on first watch.
Stay tuned tomorrow for something completely different, as we take an intense look at murder and war in 18th Centry Poland, lensed by one of the most unique voices in horror cinema.