bandon hope all who enters." This should be the
tagline for the "Ginger Snaps" franchise because it fits the films to
a "T". There is almost no hope, no ray of light, not even a sparkle of
possibility in any of the two films. And that's exactly what makes them so
different and just so good. As was the case with the original, "Ginger
Snaps 2: Unleashed" is really a gritty teen drama about the perversity of
human nature in the guise of a horror film.
I will admit to not remembering too many details about
which came out four years ago and became a cult hit -- at least a big enough hit
to warrant this sequel and an upcoming prequel. What I do remember is that the
film had a fantastic sense of itself, and offered up a clever metaphor for the
pain of growing up by way of standard werewolf conventions. I also remembered
that the original was never afraid to take chances with its gore, of which there
was a lot, especially in the end.
The sequel finds Brigitte (Emily Perkins) walking the dark
and frozen landscape of an unnamed Canadian city in the bloody aftermath of the
original. Although Brigitte is alone, spending her time reading books from the
library and living a solitary existence in a motel, big sister Ginger (Katharine
Isabelle) appears to her as figments of her imagination. Having willingly
ejected herself with her sister's tainted blood in the original, Brigitte is now
starting to turn into a werewolf herself. To stop the transformation, she's
self-injecting a herbal serum that seems to stem the transformation -- at least
for a while.
But Brigitte's existence isn't exactly lonely -- she's
being stalked by a male werewolf intent on mating with her. After the wolf
attacks and causes Brigitte to lose unconsciousness, she wakes up inside a
center for troubled girls. Here, she meets the mysterious and highly resourceful
Ghost (Tatiana Maslany), who takes great interest in Brigitte's condition.
Confined and denied of her needed serum, Brigitte goes to great lengths to avert
her transformation, even as the werewolf continues to stalk her...
Like the original, "Unleashed" proves to be more
than just a horror movie. Oh sure, there's plenty of gore and blood for the
gorefiends, but if one was inclined to look at the film from a deeper
perspective, Megan Martin's script has quite a bit to say about painful
adolescence and the establishment that can't possibly understand them, although
it tries mightily. Janet Kidder ("X-Change")
plays the administrator of the clinic, whose character is a former addict
herself. The film elicits some chuckles when Kidder confesses to Brigitte, in an
attempt to share common ground with the girl, that she knows exactly what the
girl is going through. Of course we know that she doesn't have a clue, and so
In a lot of ways, "Unleashed" might just be more
daring and perverse than the original. To that effect, Eric Johnson (TV's "Smallville")
plays Tyler, a young orderly at the clinic who wouldn't be such a bad guy if not
for his lasciviousness and penchant for blackmailing the troubled girls into his
own dirty brand of sex. Even Tatiana Maslany, the seemingly innocuous busybody
who seems to have everything figured out, including Brigitte's impending
werewolf transformation, has moments that makes us question her motives, past
and present. Next to Ghost, Tyler, and the other girls at the clinic, Brigitte
seems practically normal!
Emily Perkins reprises the role of Brigitte and the actress
doesn't seem to have changed a bit. Perkins still has that frail, thin body and
that sharp, pale face that makes her Goth-inspired character so believable. In
the sequel Brigitte is a shadow of her former self, a young woman with an
impressive array of bodily scars courtesy of self-mutilation. In an effort to
chronicle how fast her body is changing, Brigitte cuts herself and times how
long it takes the scars to heal. Unfortunately for her, while the scars heal and
stop bleeding, they don't completely go away, leading one of the girls at
the clinic to make fun of Brigitte's assumed inability to kill herself.
Although "Unleashed" was directed and written by
different filmmakers than those responsible for the original, there's
nevertheless a very strong sense of continuity not just in the storytelling, but
also in how the story is told. Brett Sullivan's direction is very
effective without being overly elaborate. The soundtrack is very appropriate,
and the movie's foley work is quite good, even impressive. The creative blend of
music and slick camerawork gives "Unleashed" an expensive and polished
But effective direction is only half the job; the other
half involves a good script. Megan Martin is more than capable, turning what
could have been a generic horror film into something much more. This is a very
good film built from a very strong script. The sequel could have easily changed
the tone completely and gone in a whole new direction, but it doesn't. The
grittiness is still there, the daring is still present, and the film still works
on more than one level.
It goes without saying that the "Ginger Snaps"
films could never have existed within the framework of the Hollywood system.
Only outside the system could a movie like this get made. Thank God for Canada.