The Ginger Snaps Trilogy (2000 - 2004)

Director: John Fawcett, Brett Sullivan, Grant Harvey

Running Time: 108 Minutes, 94 Minutes, & 94 Minutes

Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Tatiana Maslany, Eric Johnson, Nathaniel Arcand, JR Bourne

Horror is a genre well known for its franchises, with the regularly mentioned examples including the likes of Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween. Yet there are some underseen gems lurking beneath these blockbuster icons, and one that gets unfortunately overlooked is the werewolf series Ginger Snaps. Hopefully remedying such a thing is The Ginger Snaps Trilogy, an impressive package collected together by Second Sight Films.

In 1995, director John Fawcett approached screenwriter Karen Walton about making a metamorphosis movie involving girls, however the genre's depiction of women put off the screenwriter from working within the horror genre. Conversations led the pair to surmise that the genre was ripe for re-interpretation, and their desire to put a twist on relatable subject matter led to the creation of 2000's Ginger Snaps.

Fascinated with death, co-dependent teen sisters Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins & Katharine Isabelle) are considered outcasts. Their relationship is well established early on, as Brigitte's worries about death not stopping others mocking her clashes with Ginger's more dominant personality. The biggest fear they could face is being "normal", something which manifests as Ginger begins getting male attention while Brigitte worries she will be left behind.

After being scratched by a werewolf, Ginger changes her look and relishes in the men's resounding approval, which humorously includes wolf-whistles. Bodily changes are emphasized through lycanthropy, as a growing distance leaves Brigitte lost without her older sister. What becomes clear is a toxicity lurking within their relationship as a spiraling Ginger paints her destructive actions as being beneficial to her sister, informing Brigitte's journey in standing up for her own desires.

As the excellent practical effects and the bluntly funny lines bring alive this magnificent work, what is key are the tremendous performances. Perkins and Isabelle effortlessly capture these sisters whose close bond is shattered by a vicious attack, although Mimi Rogers deserves a mention as the girl's mother, trying to help her daughters in her own way while struggling with how societal expectations readily blames women. This all makes up a magnificent entry into the werewolf sub-genre.

The next two entries were filmed back-to-back and released in 2004, starting with Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed sadly glossing over many elements from the preceding film's ending to find Brigitte on the run. While she tries fighting the effects of lycanthropy with Monkshood, an overdose leaves her locked up within a rehab clinic. Without her makeshift drug to lessen her transformation, Brigitte finds herself desperate to escape while aware of an approaching presence stalking her.

Helming this sequel are director Brett Sullivan and writer Megan Martin, utilizing lycanthropy as an allegory for mental illness as Brigitte worries who she will become without her medication. There is also an interesting thread about how women are seen as objects for men to have their way with, tapping into the spirit of the original film with its supernatural approach towards relevant themes.

While Katharine Isabelle takes on a new role to torment Brigitte, the sisterly bond is filled as the younger sister becomes a big sister figure to Ghost, an eccentric young girl impressively played by future Orphan Black and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law star Tatiana Maslany. Few other additions stay in the memory, which includes the unnecessary inclusion of the werewolf as a barely-seen antagonist. This is especially glaring when a true monster hides in plain sight, leaving the film in an interesting place which warrants a follow-up.

The first of the series to not be released theatrically, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning was a direct-to-DVD prequel which followed the Fitzgerald sisters' ancestors in 19th century Canada - also named Brigitte and Ginger. They take refuge in Fort Bailey, where misogyny and religious fervour run rampant, only to discover the place is under siege by werewolves. Through approaching the story within a different time period, co-writers Stephen Massicotte and Christina Ray return the series to the initial premise of a sisterly bond without disturbing the timeline shaking events of the previous two films.

As the sisters are bound to a prophecy which foretells doom, is the curse that must be forever broken to prevent it plaguing future generations lycanthropy or misogyny? Director Grant Harvey looks at the horrendous institutions which allow men to spread misery and suffering, tapping into how the true monsters lay within mankind. It is a topic Guillermo del Toro excels at, although the approach here can feel less like an examination and instead an excuse for male characters to act horribly. At least there remains good use of gore in this third entry, closing off an underrated horror series which is begging to be discovered by more genre fans.

The Ginger Snaps Trilogy is available now on Limited Edition Blu-Ray from Second Sight Films

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004)

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)