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CampBlood Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy

 

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning Grant Harvey 2004

Ginger Snaps? More Like Dump Cake.

A confusing end to a disappointing trilogy, Ginger Snaps Back squeezes the last bit of tangy goodness out of the franchise and leaves it lying like a freshly wrung dishrag. Simultaneously redundant and inconsistent with its predecessors (no small feat, now that I think about it), the film is a rapturously-shot but otherwise utterly unremarkable re-tread that essentially tells the same story as the first film as if it were set at one of those awful Civil War theme parks your parents used to make you go to for "educational" vacations. Bleak, humorless, and uninspired, the film lands with a thud on video shelves next month like a sack of wet hair.

On the bright side, at least the arrival of this prequel (the third in the series) may introduce new viewers to the series and hopefully encourage them to start at the real beginning with the original Ginger Snaps, a smart, funny, and nasty horror flick that ranked in my best of 2000. In the original film, family bonds are tested when one of two freaky sisters is bitten by a werewolf late one nite in suburban Canada, and finds herself rapidly becoming more animal and aggressive while her meek sister stays dull, awkward, and human.

The film cleverly made the lycanthropic "disease" just that; it can be spread through bites (like usual), but also through sexual contact. As Ginger becomes more and more "animal" (read: sexual), her disease starts spreading through the high school like a case of the clap dropped into town by a visiting cousin. The pitting of the outcast sisters against one another (the attack divides them, but even more so does the sexual maturing of Ginger, who apparently "draws" the animal to her with her first period - leaving the younger Brigitte behind in the pre-pubescent dust) sets into motion a story bursting with observations on competition between women, siblings, and ultimately, species, as Brigitte is forced to put Ginger down after she is lost to wolfdom entirely. The ending is uncompromising, the journey is fresh and full of wry humor and brutal shocks, and the acting and clean direction are head-and-shoulders above most contemporary horror flicks OR teen movies. Definitely one worth seeing.

If Ginger Snaps were The Golden Girls, Ginger Snaps Back is Golden Palace: some of the same cast, basically the same premise in a different setting, and massively disappointing in just about every way. Oh, and no Bea Arthur. A description of the original film and this one side-by-side would read almost identically, if you inserted "in Frontierland" every now and then in the Back version. Apparently filmed on leftover sets from Ravenous, the story is almost identical, replacing Native… uh, Canadian? - mysticism for internet folklore searches and a bunch of scruffy, smelly men for scrubbed suburban teens. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing…

The sisters even have the same names (Brigitte is again played by Emily Perkins, once again asked to do nothing other than bug out and scowl; Ginger is Katharine Isabelle, fresh from her body-double shower action in Freddy vs. Jason) and their parents have been conveniently killed off in order to explain away the fact that Mimi Rogers no doubt wouldn't get out of bed to appear in this knockoff rehash. Things develop exactly as you'd expect, with a few nice bloody moments and some admittedly glorious cinematography, but the proceedings eventually spiral into incoherence and ultimately self-contradiction with the silly and melodramatic ending: if both sisters are wolfed-out at the end, then how in the hell is their bloodline continued for the next film? I'm assuming they must die at some point and that the B and G from the original are then stuck re-living the curse, but it's a bit annoying that we don't even get to see how they ultimately bite it or pass the curse along to their descendents (correct me if I'm wrong, but one of them must have a baby in order to carry on the bloodline, which might be difficult if they're both dogs living in the fucking Canadian forest).

This is one of those cases where it's best to enjoy the original and forget that the inferior (and depressing!) sequel and this corny prequel even exist (although I will say I preferred the second film over this one). Unless you're the type of person that enjoys watching Joanie Loves Chachi reruns, that is…

Rating (out of 5):