Ginger Snaps

Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Emily Perkins and Mimi Rogers
Mosaic Entertainment
Rental (50.00)
Certificate: 18
Available now

Adolescent sisters Ginger and Bridgette Fitzgerald are looking for something to spice up their humdrum lives. They get more than they bargained for when Ginger is attacked by a ferocious beast that might just be a werewolf...

At the outset of this low-budget but decidedly cool and witty variation on familiar folklore, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Bridgette (Emily Perkins) comprise a morbid clique of the type seen in Heathers and The Craft. Their grungy eccentricity, which in general fails to meet with the approval of their high-school peers, is also reminiscent of the eponymous protagonist of the animated series Daria, particularly in the case of Perkins' portrayal of the younger sister. Their close partnership is soon disturbed, however, when Ginger begins to undergo a change.

The werewolf legend's undertones of sexual awakening are explored here in no uncertain terms, as Ginger's transformation happens to coincide with the onset of her periods. Male viewers will probably be more squeamish than female ones whenever the subject of menstruation is discussed eagerly and in some detail by the girls' mother, Pamela (Mimi Rogers), and by the school nurse (Lindsay Leese). Rogers is particularly amusing as a mom trying desperately to be totally supportive of her daughters whilst simultaneously striving to be completely laid back and respectful of their freedom. She often spectacularly and amusingly fails to meet either criteria, as when, in spite of Ginger's obvious reticence, Pamela insists on celebrating the occasion of the girl's first period!

Other darkly humorous scenes include those in which the sisters attempt to disguise Ginger's gradually developing tail.

The modest budget means that we don't get to see many fully-fledged wolf effects, which is actually a good thing in terms of suspense. Although there are heaps of gore and buckets of blood throughout the picture - including eviscerated canines a-plenty - it is often the more down-to-earth elements that prove the most disturbing. For instance, the ordeals of amateur body piercing or shaving with a blunt razor are easier to imagine than having your guts ripped out by a ravening monster, so such scenes are particularly effective at making the viewer go "ouch". Moments such as these ensure that, although fantastical, the film is compulsive viewing.

Don't be misled by my references to this horror movie's comical aspects - Teenwolf it ain't!

Richard McGinlay