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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 276: Ginger Snaps Back

Ginger Snaps Back
Snap into a Slim Jim

I've spoken about my wariness towards sequels before, but I've never discussed prequels. There's a good reason for that because I can't recall ever watching one. I mean, I'm sure it's happened at some point, but nothing comes to mind. I tend to avoid these even more than sequels. I never feel the need to see events “before” the original movie or watch different actors play iconic parts. You now may be wondering why I'm reviewing a prequel today. Well, it wasn't my intention, as I actually thought I was watching a sequel/prequel. Confused, well so was I, especially when I found out that this was the third movie in the series, not the second.

Ginger Snaps Back is the 2004 prequel to Ginger Snaps and Ginger Snaps: Unleashed, once again starring Katharine Isabelle (Freddy vs. Jason, Insomnia) as Ginger and Emily Perkins (Juno, She's The Man) as her sister Brigitte. The movie takes place during the 19th century in the Canadian frontier. The girls are traveling through the wilderness when they come across an elderly Native American woman. She refers to them as “the red and the black” and warns them that if they do not “kill the boy” one of the sisters will die. Their horse flees and Brigitte chases after it, only to have her leg caught in a bear trap. She is freed by a Cree hunter (Nathaniel Arcand, Crazy Horse, American Outlaws) and, along with Ginger, taken to a nearby fort. They are given food and shelter by the leader Wallace Rowlands (Tom McCamus, Mutant X, The Newsroom), though the men inside are tired and wary of strangers, particularly Reverend Gilbert (Hugh Dillon, Trailer Park Boys, Surveillance). The fort has been under siege by werewolves for some time and their supplies are running low. One night, Ginger is awakened by a voice and searches the house where she finds a young boy cowering in a corner. She approaches him only to be shocked that he is in fact changing into a werewolf. The boy bites her and flees. The sisters discover that the boy is actually Wallace's supposedly dead son, Geoffrey. Ginger begins to change into a werewolf and Brigitte desperately tries to hide her sister's transformation. They learn that only way to reverse the curse of the werewolf is to kill the one who bit you. Will Ginger be able to kill the little boy before being discovered or will the werewolves get into the fort first?

"That's not a knife, this is a...well, it's a sword. Whatever, just die!"

The first Ginger Snaps movie had a pretty definitive ending, so when I saw that Ginger Snaps Back was a prequel, I figured “Well, there was no way they could make a sequel, so this makes sense.” Turns out I was wrong as there is, in fact, a sequel. I apologize in advance if some things are revealed in the second movie that connects the other two. That's my fault, so please let me know if I miss something. The good thing about this error is that Ginger Snaps Back is able to stand as it's own movie. There aren't a lot of references from the previous movies to confuse newcomers and the story self-contained. Of course, the reasoning behind making their story take place in the 19th century frontier is a bit odd to me. It's not that I don't enjoy the setting, because I do, I'm just not sure how we go from late 90's horror metaphor for puberty to the Canadian wilderness. In lieu of that, the movie's commentary focuses on racism and sexism. It does a fair job of addressing these issues, though the original Ginger Snaps did a far better job of mixing humor and serious commentary.

There is very little explanation to how Ginger and Brigitte got to where they are or how they're connected to the previous movies (besides using the same names and actresses). I was a bit disappointed that more effort wasn't given to the “why” of the movie. Most people speak without accents, which is disappointing, and certain phrases used by the girls are far too modern. The acting is good and I'm glad that both Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins reprized their roles. Sadly, Ginger Snaps Back lacks a lot of the black humor from the first movie which is a shame because it was that humor that separated it from other werewolf movies. The sets and scenery are very good with a grey and dying atmosphere. When shown, the werewolves look good thanks to some nice makeup and special effects. There is a fair amount of action and violence in the movie with decent blood and gore. 

Awoooo, werewolves of Saskatchewan!

I'm not really sure if the Ginger Snaps series needed a period prequel, but we get one anyway. It's a decent werewolf movie, though it could have easily been called something other than Ginger Snaps. The movie can stand on it's own from the series which is both good and bad. There is some good social commentary throughout the film, more than your average werewolf movie. I really enjoyed the original Ginger Snaps and was disappointed in this movie's lack of humor. Despite my disappointment and concern of the necessity to have a prequel, Ginger Snaps Back is still a decent watch with some fun violence. You're better off with the first movie, but this one isn't so bad.


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