Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blu-ray Review: GINGER SNAPS (2000) [Scream Factory]

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

Goddamn, I hated high school... The cliques, the drama, the awkwardness of puberty... Yeah, it was the pits... And all of this comes rushing back over me while revisiting John Fawcett's GINGER SNAPS on Scream Factory's wonderful new Collector's Edition Blu-ray. I've been a fan of the film, since its first release here on DVD. Sadly, for the US market, that disc was always a Pan & Scan abomination. Being a Canadian production, our neighbors up North had a nice Widescreen Special Edition, which I picked up that same year because I liked the film that much. I've wanted to get a Blu-ray upgrade, and thankfully, Scream Factory has given that to us.

The official synopsis of GINGER SNAPS reads as follows:
Fifteen-year-old Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins, Insomnia, Juno) and her nearly-sixteen-year-old sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle, Freddy vs. Jason, See No Evil 2) are both best friends and outcasts. Obsessed with dying and bound by a childhood pact to stay together forever, they loathe their mind-numbing existence in the suburbs of Bailey Downs. One night the two girls are heading through the woods when Ginger is savagely attacked by a wild creature. Ginger’s horrible wounds miraculously heal over, but something is not quite right about her. Ginger is irritable and in denial. But to Brigitte, it is obvious that a terrifying force has taken hold of her sister. She’s convinced that the insatiable craving her sister is experiencing can mean only one thing – Ginger is becoming something unspeakably evil and monstrous.
Sure, it's a werewolf movie, but what makes GINGER SNAPS so damn good is that is about so much more than the creature. At it's very core, GINGER SNAPS is a spot-on drama about the bond between two sisters being tested by puberty and high school; the supernatural elements are secondary. At times, you almost forget that you're watching a monster movie.

Karen Walton's script perfectly captures what I imagine is the experience of high school for a female outsider in your average suburban town. Even almost fifteen years later, the themes and dialog feel fresh, and the events of the story remain clever.The lycanthropic elements are used as great metaphors for sexual maturity, as the "disease" is able to be spread through sexual activity as well as by the typical biting and clawing. Quite frankly, Walton's script is one of the best to come out of the previous decade, and I wish that she had more feature credits. She has, however, had a fruitful career in television; most recently writing on the series ORPHAN BLACK.

Fawcett also does a wonderful job directing the material. The camera work is kinetic, and I really love the movements and use of color throughout. It's clear that he understood every bit of the material, and he helped bring it on the screen perfectly. The gore and monster action never overpowers the main theme of the film, and lesser directors would probably be tempted to take a more over-the-top approach. Sure, Walton included plenty of gags and horror film references in the screenplay, but Fawcett obviously knows how to balance them while simultaneously creating tension and drama. He, too, has been working almost exclusively in television for the last fourteen years, and he is currently still working with Walton on ORPHAN BLACK.

Last, but certainly not least, Katherine Isabelle and Emily Perkins are fantastic as the leads in the film. Isabelle has gotten a lot of acclaim over the years - most recently for her wonderful turn in AMERICAN MARY - but watching her here, that should be no surprise. She brings an intensity to the role that feels real and never crosses the line into camp; even when the part calls for some outrageous behavior. Perkins has also continued to act throughout the years, but I will always remember her brooding pathos here. She manages to perfectly capture the spirit of the disillusioned goth teenager, which is why her role here, and her portrayal of young Beverly Marsh in the mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's IT, are likely her most recognizable roles.

I honestly can't say enough good things about the movie, and I can't recommend it enough. Thankfully, Scream Factory has an eye for titles like this that have gone unnoticed or never received proper releases. As far as postmodern horror films go, GINGER SNAPS is right up there with the best of them, and hopefully this new release will get it more of the attention that it very much deserves.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Once again, Scream Factory delivers us a great Blu-ray package, with their Collector's Edition release of GINGER SNAPS. The film is packaged as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, with a slipcover in the initial pressing. The first 300 copies ordered directly from the company also included a limited edition poster of the cover art; which looks awesome. As usual, the original key art is included on the reverse side of the insert.

Video Quality (4.5/5)

GINGER SNAPS is presented here in a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer that is damn near perfect. Considering the film's budget, and the era that it came from, it looks quite impressive here. Sure, there are a few moments of dirt and damage, but they are fleeting and over quickly. Aside from those rare instances, GINGER SNAPS looks fantastic and better than I have ever seen it before.

Audio Quality (5/5)

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track provided here is also excellent. Levels are strong and balanced throughout, and the action-heavy scenes are booming and vibrant. Quite honestly, this is GINGER SNAPS like I've never heard it before.

Extra Features (5/5)

Scream Factory does not disappoint with the assortment of extras they have given us on this release. Not only do we get all of the previously released supplements, but we also get a fantastic new retrospective documentary. This is the treatment that GINGER SNAPS deserves!
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Fawcett
  • Audio Commentary with Writer Karen Walton
  • GINGER SNAPS: Blood Teeth and Fur (~67 min): An almost-feature-length look back at the film, featuring interviews with the main cast and crew. Wonderfully made and probably my favorite feature on the disc, there is a lot of information to be obtained here about the film and its production.
  • Growing Pains: Puberty In Horror Films (~27 minutes): A discussion between several female journalists and filmmakers about their experiences with female puberty depicted in genre cinema.
  • Deleted Scenes (~25 min): A large assortment of excised material; available with optional commentary tracks by Director John Fawcett and Writer Karen Walton.
  • GINGER SNAPS Featurette (~5 min): An old featurette used to promote the film on its initial release.
  • Cast Auditions and Rehearsals (~18 min)
  • Creation of the Beast (~5 min): A brief featurette depicting the process of bringing the werewolf to life.
  • Being John Fawcett (~2 min): The Director goofs around with the two leads on the set
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Production Design Artwork 

Final Thoughts

Scream Factory has made a name for themselves by releasing movies that fans want in packages with great extras. Their Collector's Edition of GINGER SNAPS looks great, sounds amazing, and has a ton of Bonus Features. If you are a fan of the movie, then this is a no brainer; go and buy it immediately. Folks who haven't seen the movie, though, should definitely seek this edition out and give it a watch. You can thank me later...

Highly Recommended!

Blu-ray Score


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