OCTOBER 4, 2011
I know I can be pretty optimistic with regards to HMAD plans (such as watching all of the video nasties this year – I’d have to watch one every other day to get em all), but even by my standards my delay in seeing Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning is a bit ridiculous – I promised to see it “soon” back in July… of 2007. That is when I watched the 2nd film, but since this is a prequel it doesn’t matter that I can’t remember a lot about it anymore. If anything, given my dislike of prequels, it could have been a blessing to go in “blind”.
Alas, even if I had only read the synopsis of the first film it would render a lot of this one rather pointless, as obviously the movie would have to end with both of the girls still alive in order to go on and have ancestors that look exactly like them in 200 years (and also have the same names). It would have been fine if the plot didn’t require them to be in danger, but the ENTIRE THIRD ACT revolves around how Brigitte has to kill Ginger in order to stop the curse from continuing. Uh, spoiler – she doesn’t do it.
So without any real tension to the bulk of the movie, all that’s left is a fairly generic period werewolf tale, except even less interesting because there’s no real mystery as to who the werewolf is when it’s human. Basically the two girls find themselves trapped in a fort in the middle of nowhere, populated by a half dozen or so surly dudes with a werewolf problem, but it’s not a “whodunit”, which might have been cool. Instead the wolves stay in wolf form for pretty much the whole movie, and some local Native Americans introduce their usual legends and curse talk in a largely unsuccessful attempt to give the girls something to do. For a series that started off as “feminist horror” (not my term), it’s sort of embarrassing that this one essentially sidelines the two heroines in favor of guys not trusting each other and shooting at wolves.
They also make no effort to explain how the girls end up continuing their timeline. I mean, the whole point of a prequel is to lay down the groundwork for the events of the other films, right? So why does this feel more like a period remake? The fact that they have the same first names doesn’t make any damn sense, and once again it comes down to Brigitte betraying human allies in order to protect her infected sister – if they transplanted the setting to modern day this would be pretty much the same damn movie. Ginger Snaps 2 worked because they continued with her character and came up with a different story – this one just goes backwards in more ways than one.
It doesn’t help that Emily Perkins gives a wholly obnoxious performance this time around. After getting the previous movie pretty much to herself, she spends this one in a constant state of near-shock, always looking like she just woke up and saw a spider crawling on her chest and is panicking but afraid to move. She also spends at least 50% of her screentime clutching onto Ginger, who doesn’t fare a lot better as SHE spends most of the movie making a slightly stoned face as she fights (?) the werewolf curse. It almost seems at times that they took an unrelated script and shoehorned the girls and their story into it at the last minute.
In fact, that wouldn’t surprise me, as the film was shot back to back with Ginger Snaps 2, but curiously doesn’t share the same writers or director. Usually a back to back production has a remarkably similar crew, which allows everyone to work for a little less dough and make the most out of the production. But here, not only is the principal crew different, they’re not even in the same location. The best thing about the flick is the fort set, which has been used in other productions (including the Fear Itself episode "The Sacrifice" – I recognized it instantly, proving my memory isn’t totally worthless), and it has nothing to do with the hospital from the last movie. So really, only the actors and a few producers could really see this as “back to back” – director Grant Harvey didn’t have a damn thing to do with the previous entry.
But despite the change in crew, it still suffers from the same thing that plagues most of the latter movies in back to back productions – a lack of good ideas and actors who are clearly getting sick of being in this character’s shoes. I dug the first film and liked the 2nd even more, but this just didn’t work for me. And it doesn’t seem like it worked for too many others, either – what could have been a decent DTV franchise (female werewolves!) was killed with this entry.
What say you?