Part of the Ginger Snaps Trilogy series
See the Ginger Snaps wiki for more information about the trilogy
Ginger Snaps is a 2000 Canadian horror film directed by John Fawcett. The film focuses on two teenage sisters who have a fascination with death. It is the first entry in the Ginger Snaps series, followed by Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back.
The film begins early October in 2000 in the quiet town of Bailey Downs, Canada. A rash of dog killings has been occurring, all by an unknown terror nicknamed "The Beast of Bailey Downs." A mother finds that their family dog has fallen victim to the beast, and in terror and helplessness, she runs out into her neighbourhood, crying out that "He got our dog!" The neighbourhood kids and neighbours gave a brief glance and then returned to what they were doing, hinting that they have grown accustomed to the wake of dog killings.
The Fitzgerald sisters were given a slideshow assignment to present on "Life in Bailey Downs" for one of their classes. Using Brigitte's camera and a lot of imagination, the sisters put together a macabre presentation of photographs showing Ginger in various stages of death. Though their presentation impressed their classmates, especially to the liking of Jason McCardy, their teacher, Mister Wayne, was sickened by their work and sent them to the guidance counselor's office.
During gym class, the sisters ran afoul of one of their rivals, a field hockey player named Trina Sinclair. One of Trina's friends overheard Brigitte creating a death scene story for Trina, and she promptly informed Trina, to her anger. Trina bullied Brigitte Fitzgerald, pushing her onto the ground. Ginger, ever protective of her younger sister stood in front of Trina and warned her, "Don't ever touch my sister again".
That same evening, Brigitte found herself set apart from her sister for the first time in her life. Ginger had gotten her first period, and Brigitte never felt that they were united against life as they once were.
That evening, Brigitte and Ginger went for a walk through a neighbourhood park, planning on dognapping Trina's dog and setting up a fake dog death scene to frighten Trina. While discussing the inadequacies of their lives, a werewolf leaped out from the bushes and pounced on Ginger, dragging her off screaming into the woods. Brigitte tried to follow them, but was too frozen with fear to do anything. The creature battered Ginger at length, biting her across the shoulder. Brigitte beat on the creature with her Polaroid camera, accidentally taking a snapshot of the beast. Ginger managed to get away, and the sisters ran towards the road. The beast followed them, but was struck by a vehicle driven by a young man named Sam. Terrified, the sisters raced home. Brigitte was shocked to see that the wounds across Ginger's body were already beginning to heal. Ginger downplays the attack, and the sisters decide to not pursue further help or treatment.
Taking hideout in a playhouse that the girls used when they were younger, Brigitte tried to research the lore concerning werewolves, but came up with nothing short of B-movie schlock fare. She began checking the calendar to see if Ginger's menstrual cycle somehow corresponded to the effects of the full moon. Ginger was repulsed by the notion that she was turning into a werewolf and dismissed Brigitte's concerns.
Brigitte eventually found Sam, the man who hit the werewolf with his van. Sam recognized that he had struck a lycanthrope, and Brigitte was surprised that he was so readily willing to accept such a fantastic concept. Sam tried to press Brigitte for answers concerning what really happened that night, but she evaded his inquiries.
Before long, the effects of the werewolf infection began to have a demonstrative effect on Ginger. She grew more assertive, more promiscuous and even exhibited physical alterations such as pointed teeth and discolored hair. She even began growing a tail. This terrified Brigitte who went back to seek Sam's guidance. Pretending that she was the one infected by the curse, she asked for Sam's help. Having read up on the subject, Sam theorized that pure metals might be the key towards driving out infection. This was the basis behind why weapons made of silver were known to harm werewolves. He gave Brigitte his silver earring to see if it might help. Brigitte went home and convinced Ginger to let her give her a navel piercing. She used Sam's silver earring, but it did not provide the results she was hoping for.
The following day, Brigitte had a run-in with one of her high school rivals, Trina Sinclair. Trina despised the Fitzgerald sisters and took her frustration out on Brigitte, whom she perceived was the weaker of the two. Trina pushed Brigitte onto the ground, but Ginger flew into a rage, leaping upon the girl and brutally pummeling her with her fists.
Following this incident, Brigitte found that Ginger had engaged in unprotected sex with a student named Jason McCardy and as a result, had spread the lycanthropy infection to him as well. Before such a thing could spread into an epidemic, she went back to Sam, telling him how the silver did not have any effect. Sam told Brigitte about Monkshood, a perennial flower that was a cousin to wolfsbane. Theoretically, Monkshood might have been able to provide the help Brigitte was seeking, but it only bloomed in the springtime and this was now autumn. Brigitte continued to look for another solution to her sister's condition.
That evening, Trina Sinclair came over to the Fitzgerald house carrying a dog leash and sporting a bandage across her forehead. She yelled at Brigitte and accused Ginger of stealing her dog. Ginger ran out of the house, grabbed Trina in a headlock and dragged her inside. Brigitte tried to get her to stop, but Ginger kept bullying the girl. During the scuffle, Trina slipped and suffered a fatal head injury. Brigitte and Ginger heard their parents returning home so they hid Trina's body in the freezer. Once their parents were out of the way, they pulled Trina's now-frozen body out of the freezer and buried her. Unfortunately, Brigitte accidentally broke two of Trina's frozen fingers off and inadvertently dropped them on the ground in the backyard.
The following day at school, Jason McCardy accosted Brigitte inside a supply closet. He was now demonstrating advanced side effects of lycanthropy and blamed both of the Fitzgeralds for his physical condition and violent tendencies (Jason mentioned that he killed his own dog). The timely arrival of the school janitor prevented Jason from visiting any further harm upon Brigitte.
Brigitte discovered that her mother Pamela Fitzgerald had come into possession of some Monkshood from the local crafts store. Locking her sister in the bathroom, she took the Monkshood and went to see Sam at the Greenhouse where he worked. Sam was surprised to see her, but even more surprised to see that she had actually obtained some Monkshood. He warned her that there was no guarantee that using this would work and he could not even begin to guess what side effects might occur. It could even be fatal. Sam also indicated that he knew that it was Ginger who was suffering from the effects of lycanthropy and not Brigitte. Reluctantly, he boiled the Monkshood down to a liquid and filled it in a syringe.
On her way back to see Ginger, Brigitte came across Jason McCardy attacking a small child. Turning around, Jason attacked Brigitte and she was forced to stab him in the neck with the syringe. She was surprised to see that the Monkshood solution had worked and that Jason was seemingly cured. Unfortunately, she was now in need of more Monkshood. When she returned home, she found that Ginger had broken out of the bathroom. She tracked her back to the high school where she discovered that her sister, more murderous than ever, had slaughtered their guidance counselor Mr. Wayne. Brigitte made Ginger swear that they would wait until everyone left school for the day then find a way to clean up this mess. While attempting to dispose of the body, their efforts were discovered by the school janitor. Ginger pounced on the man, eviscerating him. Horrified at realizing that Ginger enjoyed the murder of the two school staff, Brigitte denounces Ginger and says that she will never join with her. Ginger, who is raged that Brigitte has seemingly broken their childhood pact of being "together forever," kicks Brigitte and tells her to stay out of her way. She then explained her intent to go after Sam next.
That evening, Brigitte found Ginger attacking Sam at a Halloween party hosted at his greenhouse. The two girls feuded with one another, and Ginger accused Brigitte of resenting her because she could never be like her. To prevent a further divide between the sisters and to add her trust, in response, Brigitte cut open her own hand and placed it on Ginger's bloody palm, thus infecting herself. She boldly stated, "Now, I am you," proving her loyalty to her sister At this point, Sam revived and hit Ginger across the back of the head with a shovel. Brigitte told him that the Monkshood solution worked, but they needed to get Ginger back to the house to get more of it.
As they drove back towards the house, Ginger fully transformed into a werewolf and escaped from the van. Afraid, and unaware that she has transformed, Sam and Brigitte entered the house. They sensed the "Gingerwolf" lurking about and so they hid inside the pantry so Sam would have time to prepare a second syringe. Sam wanted Brigitte to take it first and then to run away with him together, but she told him no, insisting that he needed to cure Ginger first. Sam went out to find Ginger, but she leaped upon him, mutilating him.
Brigitte picked up the dropped syringe, and followed the blood trail downstairs. Weak from exhaustion and as an early symptom of her werewolf transformation, she collapsed on the steps, dropping the syringe in the process. She recovered it, but when she looked up, she saw Ginger hovering over the bleeding Sam. Brigitte slowly crawled towards them and began lapping at Sam's blood in an attempt to convince Gingerwolf that she was now like her. When she began choking on it, Gingerwolf sensed Brigitte's insincerity, but Brigitte insists that, "I can't- I won't!" adopt her new life of killing and feeding off of victims. In a fit of rage, Gingerwolf killed Sam in front of her.
Brigitte ran away and the Gingerwolf chased after her. Kicking a hole in the plaster wall of the basement, she scrambled through the crawlspace back to the sisters' bedroom. The Gingerwolf clawed its way after her, but Brigitte picked up a knife and, holding it to defend herself, stated that she was not going to die in the room with her sister. In a rage, Gingerwolf let go of all of her human instincts and let the werewolf take over, lunging at Brigitte. Defending herself, Brigitte accidentally stabbed the werewolf in the heart, causing a fatal wound.
The weakened Gingerwolf fell to the ground. Brigitte, frightened, slowly composed herself. With tears in her eyes, she glanced back at the wall of childhood and old Polaroid pictures of the sister's journeys throughout the years. The film ends zooming out from Brigitte laying her head on the dying Gingerwolf, who stops breathing, with her hand on the unused syringe.
|Character||Actor / Actress|
|Brigitte Fitzgerald||Emily Perkins|
|Ginger Fitzgerald||Katharine Isabelle|
|Pamela Fitzgerald||Mimi Rogers|
|Jason McCardy||Jesse Moss|
|Trina Sinclair||Danielle Hampton|
|Henry Fitzgerald||John Bourgeois|
|Mister Wayne||Peter Keleghan|
|Nurse Ferry||Lindsay Leese|
|Ms. Sykes||Wendii Fulford|
|Hockey kid||Bryon Bully|
|Puppy Kid||Steven Taylor|
|Creature / Gingerwolf||Nick Nolan|
|Student with blue backpack||Joey Paul Gowdy|
In January 1995, Fawcett stated he "knew that he wanted to make a metamorphosis movie and a horror film. He also knew that he wanted to work with young girls." He talked to screenwriter Karen Walton, who was initially reluctant to write the script due to the horror genre's reputation for weak characters, poor storytelling, and a negative portrayal of women. However, Fawcett convinced Walton this film would re-interpret the genre. The two encountered trouble financing the film. They approached producer Steve Hoban, with whom they had worked before, and he agreed to produce the film. Hoban employed Ken Chubb to edit and polish the story, and after two years they were ready to seek financiers.
Motion International committed to financing and distributing the film in Canada, and Trimark agreed to be the American distributor and financier. The film seemed ready to go into production by fall of 1998, however negotiations with Trimark made the producers miss the budgeting deadline for Telefilm Canada, the Canadian federal film funding agency. Rather than go ahead with only 60% of the funding, Hoban decided to wait a year for Telefilm's funding. During this interval Trimark dropped the film. Lions Gate Films took Trimark's place, and Unapix Entertainment agreed to distribute the DVD. The film's budget was less than $5 million.
Casting the two leads met with substantial difficulty. Whilst a casting director was easily found for Los Angeles, Canadian casting directors proved to be appalled by the horror, gore, and language. When one finally agreed to pick up the film, the Columbine shooting and another school shooting in Alberta suddenly thrust the public spotlight on violent teens. The Toronto Star 's announcement that Telefilm was funding a "teen slasher movie" met with a flurry of debate and outrage in the media, which generated a remarkable amount of (adverse) publicity for such a small, independent film.
Casting took place in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Perkins and Isabelle auditioned on the same day at their agency in Vancouver, reading to one another off-camera. When their taped auditions arrived, screenwriter Karen Walton said that they were exactly as she had pictured the characters.
Interestingly, both actresses were born in the same hospital, attended the same pre-school, elementary and private schools, and are at the same agency. Perkins was twenty-two at the time and Isabelle four years younger, but it was Perkins who would be cast as the younger sister.
Thus, after six months of fruitless searching, the two leads were found on the same day. Attention then turned to the next most important characters: the drug dealer and the mother roles. Mimi Rogers readily agreed to play the mother, Pamela, saying that she liked the black humor and comic relief in the role. Robin Cook, the Canadian casting director, put forward one of her favorites, Kris Lemche, for the role of drug dealer Sam. After seeing Kris's audition, Fawcett hired him.
Principal photography took place between October 25 and December 6, 1999, lasting a little over six weeks. Three of Toronto's suburbs, Etobicoke, Brampton (Kris Lemche's home town), and Scarborough served as the suburb of Bailey Downs. Shooting outside during Toronto's winter for sixteen hours a day, six days a week meant that sicknesses would make their rounds through the cast and crew every few weeks. On the first day of shooting in the suburbs, all the stills photographs for the title sequence were created. The bloody, staged deaths drew a crowd and Fawcett worried about upsetting the neighbors. The girls were covered in fake blood for the shots and, at the time, a homeowner's basement served as their changing room. Each time they needed to change, someone had to distract the homeowner's four-year-old child.
The schedule was quickly so off kilter that cast and crew were turning up to shoot day scenes at 11:00 p.m., and shooting for a day scene in the greenhouse began at midnight. The Director of Photography solved the problem by using diffusion gel and four eighteen kilowatt lamps which generated enough light to be seen a mile high in the sky.
The special effects proved to be a major hardship as Fawcett eschewed CGI effects, and preferred to use more traditional means of prosthetics and make-up. Consequently Isabelle had to spend up to seven hours in the makeup chair to create Ginger's transformation and a further two hours to remove them. Often covered in sticky fake blood that required Borax and household detergent to remove, she further endured wearing contacts that hindered her vision and teeth that meant she couldn't speak without a lisp. The most aggravating thing was the full facial prosthetic which gave her a permanently runny nose that she had to stop up with Q-tips.
Beginning in December 1999, Brett Sullivan worked with Fawcett for eight weeks to create the final cut of the film. Despite the short time for editing the film was nominated for a Genie in editing. Sound designer David McCallum of Tattersall Despite a similarly tight schedule in the sound department, the film would also be nominated for a Genie in sound editing.
Ginger Snaps grossed C$425,753 domestically, making it the fifth highest-grossing Canadian film between December 2000 and November 2001. Owing to a cult following, it has achieved significant video and DVD sales. These earnings, combined with moderate theatrical success abroad, led to the production of two further films.
The film was well received by critics and compared favorably with the work of auteur David Cronenberg.Critics also praised the lead actresses performances and the film's use of lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty. The film won the Special Jury Citation award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film was "seemingly left for dead" upon its premiere at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival but is now considered a cult film. The film was well received by critics and has an 89% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Critics' praise was centered on the quality of acting by the two leads, the horrific transformation reminiscent of Cronenberg, the use of lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty, and the dark humour.
Critics who panned the film thought the puberty metaphor too obvious, the characters too over the top (especially the mother), and the dark humour and horror elements unbalanced. However, they did credit it as a worthy attempt and often gave it half marks on their star scales. Because the film links Lycanthropy to menstruation and features two sisters, Ginger Snaps lends itself to a feminist critique. "By simultaneously depicting female bonds as important and fraught with difficulties, Ginger Snaps portrays the double-binds teenage girls face." and "Ginger is an embodiment of these impossible binaries: she is at once sexually attractive and monstrous, 'natural' and 'supernatural,' human and animal, 'feminine' and transgressive, a sister and a rival."
The International Horror Guild named Ginger Snaps the best film of 2001. Málaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema awarded it best film, best special effects, and best actress (Perkins). The Toronto International Film Festival gave it a Special Jury Citation. Ginger Snaps won the first Saturn Award for best DVD release of 2002 from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA. Karen Walton won a Canadian Comedy award for Pretty Funny Writing for Ginger Snaps. Ginger Snaps was nominated for Genie Awards in cinematography, editing, and sound editing.
Sequel and Prequel
Based on successful DVD sales, both a sequel, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, and a prequel, Ginger Snaps Back, were filmed back-to-back in 2003. Even though Ginger Snaps 2 had a limited, yet wider, release than the original, it failed greatly at the box office. Consequently Ginger Snaps Back went direct-to-video.
The title is a pun on the cookie ginger snap. "Snap" (snapping) also relates to losing one's self-control, or a quick, aggressive bite.
See Ginger Snaps on the Ginger Snaps wiki.