2 min

Blood sports

Ginger Snaps offers a sardonic spoof on high school rage

CRYING WOLF. The campy werewolf flick, Ginger Snaps (starring Emily Perkins), leaves egg on critics' faces. Credit: Xtra files

“I can’t have hair on my chest,” says Ginger of Ginger Snaps, John Fawcett’s teen girl werewolf flick. “That’s fucked!”

The film is part John Waters suburban spoof, part X Files verbose explanation of the supernatural, part Buffy girl power, part Heathers outsider humour and part head-on special effects horror genre. Many times in a single scene it’ll genuinely scare the crap out of you and make you laugh with its sardonic humour.

This complexity was lost on critics during the making of the film last year. In the wake of the Columbine school massacre and the copycat tragedy in Taber, Alberta, many Canadian casting agents and production types looked at the script’s high school Goth outsiders causing blood and carnage and stopped in their tracks.

North America was in the midst of a backlash; everyone was looking for an explanation for the violence. Instead of looking towards easy access to guns, teen angst and uncaring school environments, public debate quickly turned to blaming violent media images.

The Toronto Star printed a front-page article connecting Ginger Snaps to the school shootings; Telefilm was forced to defend funding the film.

Luckily, Ginger weathered the storm. Fawcett and the film’s producers made no compromises. Thus, they are releasing a uniquely entertaining film.

Ginger Snaps follows two sharp-tongued, Goth sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, as they lampoon their candy sweet family and high school – and eventually descend into bloodthirsty mayhem as Ginger truly snaps.

At the start, the pair stages repeated scenes of their demise.

“Suicide’s the ultimate fuck you. It’s so us,” says Ginger to Brigitte sitting cross-legged on their beds. Each time a new gory scene opens – Ginger impaled on the family’s picket fence or mauled by a local dog – it is quickly undermined as an artificial creation of the sisters’ morbid fascination with death, à la Harold And Maude.

Shortly into the film, the gore becomes very real. Ginger is infected with lycanthrophia whilst losing her virginity and starts to become a werewolf. Although Fawcett’s primary focus is on entertainment, the symbolism within the transition is not lost on him: teenage sexuality, menstrual bloods, HIV and AIDS, the developing rift between sisters caused by Ginger’s new maturity, teenagers feeling that their bodies have betrayed them and turned them into monsters.

Stars Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle sell the film’s over-the-top style beautifully, along with their pot-smoking, pretty boy sidekick, Sam, played by Kris Lemche, spouting all sorts of Fox Mulder mumbo jumbo. Mimi Rogers, as the sucky sweet, suburban mom with a steel jaw, rounds out the strong cast.

Ginger Snaps is light, camp entertainment with a good bite.

The film opens in wide release on Fri, May 11.