Ginger Snaps : Unleashed

My best-case scenario, Eleanor, is hair everywhere but my eyeballs, elongation of my spine until my skin splits, teats, and a growing tolerance, maybe even affection for, the smell and taste of feces – not just my own – and then, excruciating death.

Year Released : 2004gs2
Director : Brett Sullivan
Cast : Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Eric Johnson and Tatiana Maslany

If there’s one thing I hate it’s a sequel to a film that didn’t really need a sequel. The main reason for that is because the sequels very rarely turn out to be as good as the first and it somewhat spoils the first. Fortunately “Ginger Snaps” was, in my eyes at least, so good that a poor sequel by comparison doesn’t ruin it, but that doesn’t mean that the sequel is any good.

Much like the third film in the [REC] series, I could review this one of two ways, either treating it like a sequel or treating it as it’s own individual film. If it was the latter, much like “[REC] Genesis” I would probably enjoy it more, but it’s virtually impossible to review a sequel and have draw comparisons to the first film, and in that sense I can’t review it independently, and that’s a shame because as a stand alone film it’s not that bad, but it’s not that good either.

Ultimately it’s a trilogy (third film review coming tomorrow) that stops being good after the first film has finished, and you can’t have a trilogy with only one good film.

Plot

Following the death of her werewolf sister Ginger (Isabelle), Bridgette (Perkins) is one the run and battling her own transformation following her self-infection at the end of the first film. She is initially successful but soon finds herself in a drug rehabilitation clinic after she is discovered surrounded by several syringes of monkshood, which ultimately turns out to do nothing more than delay the transformation and not prevent it.

Whilst there she starts transforming due to the lack of monkshood and this doesn’t go unnoticed by Ghost (Maslany), who proceeds to then follow Bridgette around. There might be salvation to the problem though as clinic nurse Tyler (Johnson) secretly gives patients their drugs in return for sexual favours, something which Bridgette is definitely not keen on.

All the while Bridgette is experiencing visions of Ginger and is being tracked by a werewolf.

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So why isn’t it as good?

Well I’m going to start off by mentioning something that I promised I was going to mention in the review for the first film. In this film it’s revealed that monkshood actually just delays the infection rather than stopping it, which was the belief in the first film. In a way this does an excellent job of making the first film more macabre than initially believed as you realise that characters such as Jason were never cured and he himself has been cursed to life as a werewolf.

Infact, the best parts of the sequel are the bits that carry over from the first, such as the ghost/visions of Ginger that are following Bridgette around, or the continuing use of monkshood, and in that sense you do get a feeling of connection with the original film, however, the film offers very little to enhance the first film, which is what sequels are supposed to do.

Some of the best sequels in cinema history have been better than the original because they enhance the original. Excellent sequels include Terminator 2, Aliens, The Dark Knight and a select few others are brilliant because they work as both stand alone movies and part of a franchise. They add to the overall story in a positive way and are well made, or they at least retain what made the first as good as it was. This film fails miserably on the latter.

The opening scene starts off in a considerably less impactful way that the first film and instead of the characters creating this incredible macabre photoshoot, in the sequel it’s Bridgette shaving and injecting monkshood into herself and background music that tries to convince you that what you’re watching is creepy, but it doesn’t even begin to have the same emotional impact as the first film. The music, which I could best describe as steam-punk, is commonly used throughout the film and it doesn’t have the same brunt as the first.

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You know what, I’m actually going to abandon reviewing this compared to the first film for the most part because it’s nothing like the first one and I don’t want to spend the whole film moaning about how the first film was better and this was why. That’s not to say that this film is good by comparison because it’s really not, but I don’t want to spend the rest of this review being extremely negative for a film that if it stood alone wouldn’t actually be considered that bad.

I’m going to start with the concept of a person who is transforming into a create being helpless to even try and prevent it is quite interesting. It’s obvious that Bridgette does not want the same fate as Ginger and yet she has no choice but to face that fate as she can’t access the monkshood. What makes it even more difficult for her is that she’s in a place where everyone can see her changing and her increasing desperation to hide it.

Bridgette has changed a lot since the first film (don’t worry, it’s not a comparison) and in many ways she has changed for the better. She no longer suffers fools and this is evident when she threatens to beat up a girl simply for standing in the way of the TV. Like Ginger in the first one, this could either be down to the onset of puberty (which is hinted at given that she tries to use sexuality to get her own way), which isn’t a theme in this film, or it could be from the transformation, it’s never really made clear and still leaves the character with a slight bit of mystery, which is refreshing.

She continues to experience more and more sexuality and there are few scenes I have ever seen in any film that have about 45 young women all being taught how to masturbate effectively in a class and then having a mass explosion of self love. I can’t believe I’ve just written that and although it turns out to be just Bridgette’s imagination, it’s a scene that sticks in your head.

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In “Ginger Snaps Unleashed” Perkins gets the chance to explore new aspects of the character and you can tell that she enjoys exploring more of the character that she played so well in the first time. Infact in both of the first two films she does an excellent job and although she’s playing the same character in both, it’s very rare you get to see the same actor/ress get to play the same person completely differently from one film to the next and Perkins does an excellent job.

That being said, she is pretty much on her own in the group of characters that you’re actually interested in. Even though it’s not an awful thing, the cameo of Ginger doesn’t really anything to the film, most of the secondary characters are pretty meaningless to the overall story and worst of all is what can best be described as the film’s antagonist, Ghost.

Ghost is the Ja-Ja Binx of the film, she is extremely irritating. I can see what she adds to the film, I really can, the fact that it turns out that she burnt her own relative to the point where they will have to spend the rest of their life in hospital is actually quite interesting, but what makes her an awful character to watch is that she is portrayed so incredibly poorly by Tatiana Maslany. It was her first role in a feature film and it really shows as her acting is just bland, she is completely devoid of anything remotely worth watching and if there was anything that ruined the film for me, even as a standalone, it her performance.

Unlike the first film this is an outright attempt at horror and it fails in that sense. It’s not scary in the slightest and any attempt at scaring you is jump scares, and for me they do very little to actually scare you because it’s predictable. I could call what was going to happen before it actually happened and it’s impossible to be scared in that situation.

I really wanted to like “Ginger Snaps Unleashed” but I found it increasingly hard to become emotionally invested in the film and for me that’s not good. With a stronger cast of back up characters this film might have had a chance because the basic storyline is there, but only really caring about one character isn’t enough in a film like this. As good as the central character may be, they will only get stronger with a strong supporting cast of characters.

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Summary

As a stand alone film this wouldn’t be too bad but certainly not worth more than a 5/10 and there are a few reasons for this. If anything I would call it bland because it’s hard to get emotionally invested because other than Bridgette there are no characters that I actually care about and other than Perkins no-one puts in a memorable performance for the right reasons.

It has lost most of what made the first film enjoyable to watch and now just feels like your typical Hollywood style sequel, which is amazing given that it’s not even an American film.  It lasts for around 93 minutes but in that time it’s really hard to get inspired or overly interested in the story.

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