Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)
Starring Emily (Ginger Snaps) Perkins, Katherine (Freddy Vs. Jason) Isabelle, Nathaniel (American Outlaws) Arcand, JR (Thirteen Ghosts) Bourne
Directed by Grant Harvey
I have to admit it, and the more I see the more proud I am to do so, I loved Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed (review). I thought it was the perfect sequel, at least in terms of smaller budgeted productions. It took a character from the first one and shoved her center-stage and put her in a fairly realistic situation with a suprsingly horrific outcome. That's why it's too bad the series couldn't have ended with that film instead of this one.
Don't get me wrong, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning isn't a terrible movie. But the problem is, after the fantastic first film, and the equally cool sequel, the prequel that ends the series should've been something spectacular. Instead it's just..."eh".
The story finds the Fitzgerald sisters, (thankfully lacking fake-sounding French accents, as is the rest of the cast) circa the 19th. Lost and cold and alone, an Indian leads them into an outpost camp manned by soldiers who are just trying to stay alive, after the supplies they had been expecting to arrive two months previously never showed. To add insult to injury, they are beseeched day and night by vicious monsters who's only goal is to kill and eat, and maybe create a few new ones in the process. An Indian woman warns the sisters before they're taken into the camp to "Kill the boy, or one sister will kill the other", but like all cryptic messages it doesn't really make sense until it's far too late. Of course, one of the girls is bitten and the other has to try and get her out, or at the very least keep her safe, while sanity and order crumbles around them.
So where does it fall flat? The Creeture and I were discussing that right after watching it, and we both came to the conclusion that it lets too much of the film rest on the relationship between the Fitzgerald girls and doesn't concentrate enough on an actual story. You're supposed to fear for these girls, you're supposed to really care about them and feel like they really mean it when they say "together forever", but either their performances or the script (or a mixture of both) come off as stale and phoned-in for most of the film. No history was given as to why these two sisters were alone in the woods, what happened to their family, why they've made a vow to be "together forever" (although the fact they seem to be alone in the world is a bit revealing on that point, some exposition wouldn't have hurt); mostly I just couldn't bring myself to care what's happens to them.
So what about the werewolves? We saw a definite improvement in its design in the last film, and seeing as how they were made back-to-back you would think the design would have stayed the same, and for the most part it does, except for one major change; the front legs of these beasts are much, much longer than their back legs. It leads them to look awkward most of the time, which is a shame because at one point there are a lot of them on screen and that scene alone could've been amazing. I can only guess this re-design was done because of their number and the fact that they were far more mobile than they had been in the past, I just think there must have been a way to accomidate this and keep the creatures slick and vicious. And before you even ask no, there are no transformations.
It does have its good points, don't get me wrong. It's shot beautifully, with full usage of the Canadian wilderness coming into play, and the dreams sequences look especially amazing. The music is subtle but effective, nothing like the grinding semi-industrial track of the last one, which is good because it would've made zero sense in this situation. Some of the characters are great, even if they seem to be just filling in stereotypes, and there's a good amount of the red stuff to be had.
Unfortunately, though, none of those things are enough to elevate it past a status of "eh" for me, and I almost hope someone decides to make just one more, and make it the spectacular film this one should've been, just so we can have a good sense of closure with the series.
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