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Director: John Fawcett
Writer: Karen Walton, John Fawcett
Cast: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, and Mimi Rogers
Length: 108 min
Label: Shout! Factory
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
- Ginger Snaps: Blood, Teeth, and Fur Interviews with the cast and crew
- Growing Pains:Puberty in Horror Films: Women in Horror panel discussing Ginger Snaps and the history of female puberty in horror
- Audio Commentary with Director John Fawcett
- Audio Commentary with Writer Karen Walton
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by John Fawcett and Karen Walton
- The Making of GINGER SNAPS – Vintage Featurette
- Creation of the Beast – Vintage Featurette
- Being John Fawcett- Vintage Featurette
- Cast Auditions and Rehearsals
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Production Design Artwork Photo Gallery
Every once in awhile a film is released that is so unique, so powerful that it makes its mark on the film world; Ginger Snaps is one of those movies. Produced, shot, and edited in 14 weeks, for a budget of less than 5 million CAD—which would be less than 3,500,000 USD in the year 2000—Ginger Snaps carries with it an essence hardly matched by films that pack tenfold its budget. It is fitting that Ginger Snaps is released at the start of a new millennium, because in many ways the film represents everything that a post-2000s indie horror film should aspire to be. Working on a shoestring budget and a tight shooting schedule, the film utilizes all practical effects, including an impressive—if not slightly flawed—creature-design all things considered. The film has, since its released, amassed a strong but small cult following and has even managed to spawn two sequels. Despite the following, the film remained unreleased on Blu-Ray, until today. When Scream Factory announced their plans to give the film its first Blu-Ray treatment we couldn’t be happier…that is until we saw what they were able to do with it.
At its core, Ginger Snaps is a heartwarming story of the bond of sisterhood; a coming of age tale. Sisters Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) are social outcasts in their quaint Canadian suburb Bailey Downs. Clinging to death fantasies as a morbid escape from reality, the sisters entertain themselves by staging a series of fake deaths and photographing them. Fearing maturity, the sisters naively refer to their inevitable menstrual future as “the curse.” However, when Ginger receives her first period it is not only the menstrual curse which she is infected with. Bitten by a mysterious wolf-like creature, Ginger begins undergoing a strange metamorphosis. Now it is up to the more timid of the two, Brigitte, to come to her sister’s rescue before it is too late.
Originally averse to writing a horror film, Karen Walton’s script is one of the film’s strongest attributes. Despite her reluctance to work within the genre—and it being her feature debut—Walton takes to it with ease. Defying the typical conventions, Walton spins a beautiful analogy between lycanthropy and female puberty. If anything the film can be faulted for being a bit too obvious at times; but, in a sea of misogynistic and vapid horror films, even Walton at her least ambiguous is a breath of fresh air for the genre. Walton’s depiction of the sisters as an archetypical teenage gothic duo could be criticized for being too one-dimensional in scope, but the film’s ultimate treatment of the characters defies this criticism. The film has a heart and Walton’s script, which refuses to delve too deeply into humor, remains strong and effective. By the film’s conclusion both Brigitte and Ginger are sympathetic and deep characters who demand viewer alignment. Walton’s success lies in the gender-less appeal of the film. While it is probably one of the few horror films that offer realistic and challenging high school female leads, the film is far from what might be considered a woman’s film. Meshing traditional werewolf folklore with female insight, Walton creates a new vision of the subgenre with no cinematic equivalent.Matching the strength of Walton’s script is John Fawcett’s direction. Fawcett, like Walton, had predominantly worked in television prior to making Ginger Snaps, and there are elements of TV style that seem present in Fawcett’s direction. But this is hardly a criticism of the film. In fact, the film is beautiful in spite of its low budget. Maintaining a big budget feel, Fawcett makes the most of what he has to work with. Throughout the film Fawcett personifies the camera’s movement, linking the viewer’s eye with that of a prowling animal. Perhaps Fawcett’s biggest mistake is in relation to his compositions regarding the creature. Shot in full light, and often for an extended time, the creature’s artifice can sometimes be very noticeable and distracting. While a certain amount of commendation should be had for Fawcett’s unwillingness to hide the imperfections, perhaps a bit of creative shadows and quicker cutting in select scenes could have been used.
What really make the film work are the sound design and the practical effects. The sound design is impeccable, with every guttural noise, every scratch, movement, slurp, and lick being amplified to a point of clarity. Matching the visceral soundscape with the uncanny nature of practical effects results in an often-grotesque reaction, which Fawcett utilizes to his benefit. The film’s ability to elicit a bodily response from its viewer relies not on excessive gore, or visuals, but a blending of all cinematic tools available. In this regard, Ginger Snaps is one of the most ambitious and effective horror films in many years.The acting also serves to drive the film forward. Both Perkins and Isabelle are perfect for their roles. There is a real chemistry between the two actors that makes their bond seem natural. Perkins, in particular, is a real force. She is able to convey a full range of emotions, from subtle half-hidden smiles to full on cathartic despair. Playing a small role, Mimi Rogers, as the sisters’ mother, is also incredible. She becomes one of the film’s most sympathetic and warped characters. Despite the implicit humor in the nature of her idealized, perky housewife, her role is far from pure camp. She is a character that can be chuckled at, but still demands an amount of respect that Rogers delivers masterfully.
It is probably safe to say that Scream Factory’s treatment of Ginger Snaps is one of their best outputs thus far. This 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1.78:1 transfer of the film is of very high quality. The colors are crisp; the skin tones are natural; and the viscous blood pops in a bright and bold red. The film grain is kept beautifully intact, and even in the film’s darkest scenes there isn’t a great deal of deterioration. No major restoration/DNR processing signs appear noticeable, which leaves a faithful print. There are a few imperfections present—a few dust spots, heighten grain in dark scenes—but overall they aren’t terribly distracting and the heighten grain is most likely present in the film’s original print. This is one for the collectors and cinephiles alike.
Similar to the video, the audio is of utmost quality. Capturing every nitty-gritty noise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is impacting and balanced. None of the elements are in conflict with each other, rather they are all weaved into a seamless unified whole. Everything—down to the slightest of noises—is magnified, creating an aural assault on your senses. With a film like Ginger Snaps the audio mix is vital, Scream Factory has stopped at nothing to present the best mix they possibly could.
When Scream Factory wants to go all out, they go all out. If you’ve been somewhat displeased with a few of the recent releases, Ginger Snaps will certainly cheer you of your blues. Carrying over a few features from previous releases of the film and commissioning a mass of new interviews, this collector’s edition is packed with hours of features. First up is Ginger Snaps: Blood, Teeth, and Fur, a one-hour featurette with the cast and crew. This mini documentary offers a wealth of information, answering most of the questions that could be posed of the film. Importantly, the cast and crew discuss not only the success of the film, but also what they wish they could have done better. Second up, Growing Pains: Puberty in Horror Films is maybe the crown jewel of the set. In fact, this is exactly the type of supplemental feature that we are interested in, a critical perspective of film from the insight of industry professionals and scholars. In this round table discussion, the group of women discusses Ginger Snaps and the history of female puberty in horror cinema. Growing Pains is a must-see for those interested in the film and for those with an interest in feminist film studies. Also included are deleted scenes with optional separate commentary by John Fawcett and Karen Walton, a featurette carried over from a previous DVD release, Creation of the Beast: the making of the creature featurette also carried over, Being John Fawcett: a one minute video behind the scenes of the film, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, and Production Design Artwork.
Fans of Ginger Snaps hardly need more than the mere existence of the collection to convince their purchase. However, Ginger Snaps is a film that all horror fans should appreciate. It both challenges and pays homage to the horror films that inspired it. In the same breath that Ginger Snaps is like no other film before it, it cannot be separated from its predecessors. There is a bit of something for everyone in this film. Matched with an impressive amount of worthwhile special features, a nearly perfect video and audio presentation, Scream Factory’s Ginger Snaps Collector’s Edition Dual Blu-Ray/DVD combo is the definitive release, a great buy for even the most casual of Ginger Snaps fans.