I grew up in a really small and shitty town. Although it wasn’t without its charms because of a pretty river running through it and its historic bridge and mill, it better served as a suburb for people to move to if they just had kids, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if they wanted a relatively quiet place to grow old and die. (Maybe a little morbid, but I’ve been watching a lot of horror movies lately, okay? Even more than usual!) Experiencing my teen years and all the joys that come with periods, hair-where-there-wasn’t-hair-before and noticing boys noticing me, but doing so in an occasionally suffocating environment like that was really one of the strong driving forces behind me falling so madly in love with all of the escapism involved with film, and Ginger Snaps will forever be one of the go-to’s for when I was feeling angry and misunderstood.
Even though this movie concerns itself with supernatural elements and so much of the set design is stylistic, unnatural and creepy, there’s something so relatable about what Ginger and Bridgette experience throughout the course of the narrative. Their deep-seated resentments, their anti-establishment ideals, their fascinations with death; it all falls under this blanket of confusion and fears that come with transitioning into adulthood. Alongside all of that, Ginger Snaps so effectively uses lycanthropy as a metaphor for female puberty, which makes it hit an extra right note when you’re a teeange girl.
Ginger Snaps was an obvious pick for our Halloween screening at The MUFF Society (co-presented by Cinefilles!) because it makes every point it wants to make and it does it boldly. Need more reasons to come to our screening on October 14th? Well strap in and [insert pun about things getting hairy].
I want to talk about periods. I want to talk about how much they suck sometimes. I want to talk about how, during mine, I feel angry and moody and like I want to find a dark room and sit in it with The Distillers on repeat while I day-dream about smacking that dude at the coffee shop who looked at me a weird way, but I also have this incredible urge to have everyone in the world touch me, like, immediately, even though I feel really bloated and gross. Ginger Snaps doesn’t just talk about periods, it does so with bold-faced font and communicates how erratic and conflicting hormones can feel.
4) All of our feelings for Katharine Isabelle
For one, I am severely intimidated by how unbelievably cool Katharine Isabelle seems. She always takes on interesting and dark roles and revels in the Scream Queen mystique, and her depiction of Ginger in particular really makes me wish I was tougher and punkier and spoke my mind more often. I would really want to the Bridgette to her Ginger, because if anyone messed with me she’d probably not only rip them a new one, but give me the courage to do the same.
3) Writer Karen Walton
Alongside some national pride because Karen Walton is a Canadian, she has also worked on such gems as Orphan Black, Queer as Folk and (let’s not forget) the equally fantastic Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (does anyone else smell a marathon coming on?). I also have no idea if this is true (or how I could possibly fact check it), but in my obsessive research of Karen Walton (because I not-so-secretly want to sit her down for a beer and pick as much of her brain as possible), she apparently did stunt work on Prom Night II, and did such odd-jobs as performing as a singing telegram.
Also, Karen will be appearing in person at our Toronto event, so she’ll be able to talk to us about this all!
2) This is a movie every teenager should watch at some point because it is far too relevant
In my Drop Dead Gorgeous Gimme Five, I talked a bit about when I was in high school and how my two best friends at the time and I were like an angry low-rent three musketeers, and there’s something about Ginger and Bridgette that reminds me of how we used to be. Yes, we were judgmental, but there was a really important process happening, as we had to learn what we didn’t want to be and what irked us about how people acted in society. We needed to make fun of every jerk dude who thought it was cool to make fun of girls for sleeping around. We needed to make fun of weird school policies about bra-straps and talk back to principals who tried to enforce their ridiculous rule. But most importantly, we also needed companionship, and sometimes that meant dressing in black and standing in corners, looking out at the football field with scowling glances, like we were our own versions of Ginger and Bridgette.
IS THERE A BETTER METAPHOR FOR FEMALE PUBERTY?
One thing I love about horror is its ability to transfer real-world issues into a mechanism to discuss things that matter, and Ginger Snaps does this so beautifully with its lycanthrope symbolism. But also, if I’m going to get really real right now, this movie also just looks so goddamn amazing, partially because the werewolf that Ginger inevitably morphs into looks so creepy and most importantly, unique. This ain’t your grandfather’s werewolf movie, and it doesn’t want to be.
Don’t miss the MUFF Society/Cinefilles screening of Ginger Snaps on Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. at The Carlton Cinema in Toronto. For more information about the event, click here.
Ginger Snaps is also being screened by the New York chapter of The MUFF Society on October 15. For more information about the event, click here.
This piece is part of Galloween, Cinefilles’ month of all-girl horror coverage. Click the image to read more.