GINGER SNAPS BACK - Complications Ensue
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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Not the cheeriest movie I've ever seen, but all the Ginger Snaps movies are dark. The first one used an interesting metaphor -- Ginger is a late blossoming 15-year-old girl who doesn't understand the changes happening in her body -- the natural ones, like menstruation, and the unnatural ones, like developing rather nasty canines and hair in awkward places. The sequel starts with her sister, bitten by the wolf, cutting herself obsessively -- which adolescent girls do, but not usually because they're trying to see how far the supernatural infection has gone.

This one didn't have much of a metaphor. It's just a scary, sad story of a fur trapping post in the Canadian West in 1815 which is surrounded by werewolves -- and as it happens, riddled with them.

What I didn't like about this one was it felt like it was on train tracks. From the moment the historical Ginger's bitten, you know where this is going to go. There is no native shamanism that can stop the plague. No silver bullet, if you will. It's all heading towards the change.

It doesn't help, of course, that the werewolves are some of the least convincing monsters I've seen -- this is a Canadian budget after all -- but more than that I'm missing a point to it all. What is the movie really about? Where's the metaphor?

What's the point of making a supernatural movie if you're not really talking about something else -- something metaphysical? Oh sure, there's an annoying preacher who's ranting all the time. And the trading post is built on land the Indians have recommended against building on. But those felt like random story elements. I never really felt the movie added up.

Ah, well. Glad to see someone in Canada is able to make a sequel.

Are there any werewolf movies with happy endings?

I guess Wolf with Jack Nicholson is pretty happy. And fairly convincing, too. I particularly like how Michele Pfeiffer, hired to play The Girl, instead plays a very specific breed of smart but slightly spoiled rich girl who were common in my high school. There, going wild is a plus -- it makes more sense than living in the glass and steel cage of modern life. That's a metaphor I can get behind -- even if I prefer my water in a glass.

I prefer it when there are two ways to go -- a happy and a sad ending -- and the flaws of the protagonist and the efforts of the antagonist send it in the direction it goes. Inevitability, but only in retrospect.

2 Comments:

Are there any werewolf movies with happy endings?I Was A Teenage Werewolf, with Michael Landon, (or Teen Wolf, with Michael J Fox, take your pick). I think he succeeded by doing what the protags in all teen movies must do (according to J. Campbell), and that is invent a new dance craze in order to get the girl at the school dance.

By Blogger C.J., at 11:00 PM  

I have to admit being tempted to rent one of these movies, based on the titles alone. I'll probably pass, but you have to admit that both "Ginger Snaps" and "Ginger Snaps Back" are great titles, especially when judged by the criteria Alex sets forth in his book.

By Blogger Marc in MD, at 6:19 PM  

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