Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why I like Ginger Snaps


Why I like Ginger Snaps

1)  The movie appeals to me in the same way that Daria does. Both are about brainy outsiders who are actually estranged from their peers through social awkwardness while simultaneously being too cool for school. 

2) The fake murder/suicide photo game is perfect characterization for the two sisters: it's off-puttingly creepy, immature, charming, and ultimately harmless. Most people with some degree of intelligence and morbidity probably remember playing games like that, and it introduced us to the sister's inner world and their boredom. 

3) I've never really seen a character transform into a werewolf the way that Ginger does. The process is slow and predominantly psychological, augmenting the impatience that laid dormant in her personality while amping up her sexual frustration into something predatory. 

4) There's a real sadness to the movie as the sister's bond is torn apart by Ginger's change. The pair have lived in their own world for so long that we sympathize with Brigitte's heartbreak when Ginger appears to be breaking away and growing up.

5) I feel like there are limits to how much I can appreciate this film, having never lived in a woman's body. But the film uses the lycanthropic transformations that Ginger undertakes as a painful study in puberty. Oh adolescence. 

6) Their mom is a badass. When she thinks that Ginger murdered someone, her first thought is to take the girls, ditch her husband, and make for Canada. 

7) Ginger Snaps has one of the saddest, quietest final images in all of horror cinema.     

8) The tail-cutting scene was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen. A lot of torture porn makes the mistake of disconnecting the violence from the characterization. By the time Ginger starts growing the tail, we've come to care about her. That makes the violence all that more horrific.

9) The werewolf story has a lot of sexual subtext, and Ginger Snaps exploits it to the fullest. Ginger seems to mature and come into her own as the lycanthropic infection takes hold. She acts out her confusion and fear through sexually-charged interactions with males, often ending poorly for the men or teenage boys in question. Most of the guys in question are predatory scumbags, and it's an interesting inversion of what many women undergo when they become subjected to that kind of attention. 

10) There are a lot of opportunities where hope seems possible. The infection initially doesn't seem so bad, Ginger seems to be fighting it, a cure is discovered, it seems like things could work out. Lycanthrope is often a terminal disease in movies, and we always desperately hoping for a happy ending to these stories, even as the hope slowly slips away.

Conclusion: Ginger Snaps is my favorite werewolf movie because it used of familiar horror tropes to tell a compelling story about characters I cared deeply about. I saw it towards the end of my adolescence and related to Brigitte and Ginger's struggles. It walks that fine line a lot of good horror movies walk between being scary and being sad, and it's one the best horror films I've ever seen.


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