Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning
Year of Release: 2004
Running Time: 94 minutes (1:34)
Director: Grant Harvey
Katharine Isabelle ... Ginger
Emily Perkins ... Brigitte
Nathaniel Arcand ... Hunter
Tom McCamus ... Wallace Rowlands
JR Bourne ... James
Hugh Dillon ... Reverend Gilbert
Adrien Dorval ... Seamus
Brendan Fletcher ... Finn
David La Haye ... Claude
Matthew Walker ... Doc Murphy
Jake McKinnon ... Hellhound (uncredited)
In the 19th century the Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, take refuge at Fort Bailey, home of the Northern Legion Trading Company. But the ground is cursed, and no one leaves for fear of the monstrous beasts lurking in the area. Now, Ginger and Brigitte's vow to stay "together, forever" gets tested as one of the sisters slowly slips into a darkening fate.
Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning, remindin' everybody that Jesus loves us. His servants though, those guys'll lock you up with a rampagin' werewolf just to save their own hides. Maybe they aughta have a test or somethin' before they let people into these religions, they're really startin' to trample Jesus' street cred. Speakin' of people that aughta be locked up, just look at that title. Not Ginger Snaps 3: The Beginning, not Ginger Snaps: The Beginning, no; Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people? Are they just tryin' to be assholes? I don't mean to be vulgar but god damnit why in the name of Mary's blessed pecker hole do these guys have to go against the grain at every possible opportunity? Fuggin' title hipsters. You watch, when they make a fourth one and pick up after the events of part two we'll have: Ginger Snaps Back to the Future. Ugh. It's gettin' too late in the day to think about this anymore lets talk about somethin' else. Know who hates this one? 'Sides anal retentive historians whose veins bulge out til they look like Scott Steiner anytime there's an anachronism, I mean. Koreans. In fact this may be the only thing the North and South have ever agreed on, with the exception of Dennis Rodman visitin' the North. South's just happy he ain't tryin' to come inside their borders for any serious length of time. Now, normally I'd say their reasonin' is pretty disgustin', but under the circumstances I'm inclined to agree. See, in the movie there's this fort that's runnin' low on food cause all these werewolves're hangin' around outside the gate tryin' to break in an eat everybody like they're sentient Pup-Peroni sticks. Only every now an then they get a little over excited an start pawin' at the door when everybody's sleepin' an the tower guard has to come out an euthanize a few of 'em til they quit an that's where we come to the nonsense. These guys're gettin' attacked almost everyday by seven foot long meat barrels an nobody thinks maybe they aughta stretch the food budget a little by cuttin' these things up an hangin' 'em over the spit fire? An don't gimme that business about blood contamination, every bit of hamburger you've ever eaten had bacteria in it before it was cooked, so I don't wanna hear that excuse. See, this is why the Indians say we're a greedy, wasteful buncha people. These guys've got perfectly good slow roasted dog haunch sittin' right there an they just let it rot. Big deal if it was your brother when it was alive, that fact sure didn't stop him from tryin' to chomp off your Oscar Meyer wiener now did it? So what's the deal? You stuck up? Too good to eat dog now? These guys wouldn't last five minutes on Survivor.
In any event, this's gotta be the finest werewolf sequel ever to be set in the 1810s an feature such era appropriate dialog as "these people are fucked," so as you can imagine, there's prolly a few scraps of knowledge here that you may've had backwards for years that're just waitin' to be reconciled. First of all, children from the 1800s, even after goin' half werewolf're still better behaved than your average Toys 'R Us kid. Second, anyone that's suspicious of somebody that's been helpin' 'em out for months on end, because they've been helpin' 'em for months on end, is either a colossal dick pimple, or doin' too much pot even by Cheech & Chong standards. An third, your finer rooms in an 1800s fort will come fully equipped with a pot to piss in. Just make sure you rinse it before breakfast. But somethin' I've been thinkin' about for years that this movie brought up again is the wise old Indian. Any good movie's gotta have a wise old Indian tellin' the stupid white guy why his bacon tree never took root. But you ever notice that there're never any stupid old Indians in the movies? We got so many stupid old white people around that they're actually a critical television/political demographic at this point. So why no stupid old Indians? Do they just start out with a higher base intelligence when they're born? Maybe it's cause their brains haven't been rotted out like ours, cause when the elders saw what was on cable TV they jerked that shit outta the socket quicker'n Anna Nicole Smith unplugged J. Howard Marshall. Still others theorize that the stupid Indians never change the battery in the smoke detector an die in unfortunate teepee fires, are struck by lightnin' when they bite off more than they can chew with a rain dance, or are hit by passin' cars as they try pickin' up all our trash from the side of the freeway before they can ever get old. You ever try pickin' up trash on the side of the freeway? It's a dangerous business, a lotta times it tries knifin' you the moment you open the door. We may never know the answer to this question, though one can imagine that the wise old Indians prolly do have the answer, an that it's a great campfire story... but gee wiz, the ancestral grounds're way outside of town an Ancient Aliens is about to start.
The movie begins with some tradesmen from the Canadian federation of united seal clubbers gettin' crunch 'n munched by a pack of mega-fauna dingos while this voiceover talks about how "the curse" began in the ancient times an that on the day of reckonin' it'll either get wiped out like a Japanese nuclear power plant or explode an become completely uncontrollable like ... well, like a Russian nuclear power plant. Then the protagonists from the first movie (well, not exactly, I guess they're their own grandmas or somethin') come into frame tryin' to make their way through the deep snow on a horse when it eventually goes on strike an forces 'em to to walk on their own. Really, if life was fair it'd be the horses' turn to ride them for a change. Eh, actually, forget I mentioned that, sounds too much like porn from Denmark. So eventually they come upon an Indian village that looks to have accepted blankets in trade from some of Columbus' assholes cause ain't nobody there cept the wise old Seer who gives 'em possum skull necklaces an tells 'em they've gotta kill the boy or one sister's gonna go to the big Hot Topic in the sky. Then the horse freaks out an takes off like Jennifer Wilbanks an Brigitte ends up steppin' in a bear trap tryin' to catch up to it an then Aragorn shows up an has to drop Ginger with a sling after she starts whackin' 'im with a stick so he can get Brigitte outta the trap. Crazy white bitches, I tell you what. But anyway, Aragorn leads 'em over to Fort Apache an gives 'em VIP badges to get 'em past event security, only when the occupants see 'em this turd muffin (James) walks over an starts slappin' around the border patrol agent (Claude) cause he was told never to open the door to strangers. Then the boss (Wallace) comes out to get their story an Ginger tells 'im their parents drowned when their boat collided with an iceburg in Lake Superior an once he's satisfied that they're not from Quebec he sends 'em over to Doc Murphy for some doctorin'. So the doc sticks some leeches on Brigitte an then crams an ether rag in 'er face so she'll quit makin' noises like a dog pawin' at the back door during a lightnin' storm an once the painkiller makes everything groovy this little hobbit lookin' guy (Finn) shows 'em to their room. While Finn's standin' around like a bellhop waitin' for a tip, Ginger asks 'im if there's any dog sleds headed east an he tells 'er the only way outta there is to make like The Proclaimers an walk one thousand miles. Later that night the girls're invited to dine with the rest of the denizens an once they arrive the preacher starts passive aggressively warnin' everybody about the sins of the twat while sayin' grace. I could see it if they were havin' clams, but I think this guy's just a daft zealot.
Then Aragorn walks in an drops an enormous canine jawbone on the table an after lamenting havin' to kill his own little Jacob, is offered a seat at the table. Only James don't like Aragorn much cause he figures anybody that'd stick around to protect an asshole like him is prolly up to somethin' an once he makes that clear Aragorn has to head butt one of the jerk's flunkies an plaster James up against the wall like a tampon in the lady's rest room til Wallace comes over an asks 'im if he'd please stop makin' douche shaped dents in the wood paneling. Then the girls go back to their room an hit the sack, but later that night Ginger has to get up to use the porta pot an after she finishes she hears what sounds like the sobbing of Alex Rodriguez comin' from a room across the hall. Once inside, she finds Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy crouched down in a corner an when she goes over to give 'im a belly rub he gives 'er a werewolf hickey an escapes the kennel. Nice goin' there Pandora, real smart. So with the dog outta the bag, Ginger wakes Brigitte up so they can get the heck outta there an after they grab a couple swords for protection they head for the gate. Only when they try liftin' the brace on the door James catches 'em an tells 'em swashbucklin' be not for wenches an knocks 'em on their butts. Ginger's P.O.'d an pops up like black DNA in Craig Cobb's blood test an puts up 'er dukes long enough to distract James while Brigitte grabs his musket an threatens to give 'im severe lead poisoning, 'til The Bloodhoung Gang starts batterin' the gate from outside an everybody has to drop what they're doin' an brace it. Ginger an Brigitte aren't much help with their collective 202 lbs, but pretty quick the worg alarms go off an the guards on the wall start firin' like Chris Christie when he found out his stooges caused the New Jersey bridge slow down scandal while the others come to help brace the gate. Eventually, after one guy gets dragged outside an chewed up worse than Violet Beauregard's bubble gum, they're able to rebrace the gate an the girls wander off like the whole thing wasn't entirely their fault, 'til they run into the preacher who tells 'im one of the Were Bears snuck in an that they aughta hide inside where it's safe. I musta missed the passage in the bible where it's okay to lock people up with werewolves, but then these guys never follow the real biblical rules either. So the girls end up runnin' upstairs with the hairy bro in tow an are able to get a door between themselves an Harmaduke, but he's chewin' through the door quicker'n a trust fund baby goes through their inheritance an just when it looks like they're about to become Purina Dog Chow, Aragorn shows up an executes 'im gangland style. It sounds cruel, but he could just as easily have executed 'em Gangnam style.
The next mornin' Ginger wakes up with 'er clothes lookin' like Lorena Bobbitt's after she bobbed it, so she an Brigitte head down to see the doc, only when they get there Finn's inside choppin' up all the leeches into generic escargot. Then the doc shows up an makes Finn attach one of the leeches to 'imself at gunpoint an pretty quick it swells up into a hairy bloodthirsty turd an the doc has to euthanize 'im. An we're only just now startin' to worry about medical death panels? Anyway, then the doc heads out into the yard an starts eyeballin' the dead werewolf they've got sprawled out an asks Claude if its tattoo looks like the one his brother got that one night after they'd licked those poisonous toads. Seems Claude's brother was the captain of the supply boat, an when they yank out the beast's glass eye it pretty much confirms that they're boned. In Soviet Russia, pooch screws you. By now everybody's just a little bit antsy to get the heck outta this frozen hellhole, but Wallace tells 'em they prolly just got the dead werewolf mixed up with the one they'd gotten taxidermied a while back in the confusion an that the glass eye was just the marble they'd stuck in there, so they're not goin' anywhere. Then Wallace goes to check an see if Jo Jo needs his water dish refilled an discovers the kid's up an vanished like pee in a swimmin' pool an finds Ginger's possum skull necklace on the floor. Meanwhile, the preacher's outside doin' a funeral service for the dead guys, only he spends most of his breath talkin' about how the Indians're the great Satan. I really hate these guys that spend the whole service gettin' that cheap plug for God in there instead of talkin' about the deceased. Once that's done, they toss Clifford the big red dog on top of their bonfire an jam its head onto a pike outside to serve as an example to any others who might try tearin' up the sofa cushions. Meanwhile, Ginger's Jo Jo bite is sproutin' hair an closin' up tighter'n Jerry Sandusky's butthole in the shower an Brigitte goes to look for some Jack Daniels brand morphine for Ginger, only to be caught by Wallace who don't take too kindly to people stealin' his painkiller. He passes Brigitte the necklace an tells 'er about what happened to Jo Jo an his mama an asks how Ginger's holdin' up as she tries tellin' 'im that she's just got Northern Exposure an that it happens every year around this time, but he knows better.
Later that night, Ginger wakes up to Jo Jo pawin' at 'er teats an... isn't she a little old for you, son? Furry little Ashton Kutcher up in here, yeesh. Anyway, that's the moment Brigitte chooses to reenter the room an Jo Jo has to run like a scalded dogboy. By this point, Ginger's startin' to make sense outta what the wise old Indian chick said an figures she's gotta tie Jo Jo to a tree an shoot 'im or else Brigitte's gonna come home one day an find 'er dead on the chamber pot. Elsewhere, another guy (Seamus) starts hearin' scratchin' comin' from his attic an pokes his head up inside to make sure nobody's in there goin' through his back issues of Calf 'n Ankle Monthly when Jo Jo grabs his face an rips it off like a bra at the Playboy mansion. A little while later, the rest of the crew finds Seamus and a lock of hair the Hound of Bastardville yanked outta Ginger's head an go drag 'er outta bed so they can administer the beastalizer test. While that's goin' on, James jumps on toppa Brigitte an starts demandin' to know what really happened to 'er leg, why they never mentioned Ginger's bite, an where he can get some of the volumizin' shampoo she uses. Then Wallace comes in an tells James to get the heck outta there before he tells everybody his Dad was a deserter in the Revolutionary War an Brigitte threatens to blackmail Wallace about Jo Jo bein' on the loose if he doesn't call his dogs offa her dog. Way too many dogs in this fight, this is gettin' complicated. So Wallace goes down to the infirmary an ends up havin' to shoot the doc for malpractice when he tries to leech Ginger an tells Brigitte that Ginger's gonna have to sleep out in the yard. Once they get back to their room, Ginger tries explainin' to Brigitte that she's liable to start sniffin' people's crotches pretty quick if she don't get outta there an get a neck snare around Jo Jo like right now. So Ginger heads outside an observes James racially purifyin' the fort by orderin' Seamus' half Indian son (Milo) off to the reservation an spots Jo Jo over in the whites only section of the cemetery holdin' his Mama's paw. Damn dog's always diggin' in the yard. So Ginger sneaks up on 'im an puts 'er dagger to his throat an ends up lettin' 'im go when he gives 'er the sad puppy dog eyes an pretty quick somebody spots 'em an they scatter like agricultural workers in an ICE raid. Then Aragorn comes by Brigitte's room an tells 'er he's seen 'er in his dreams, that he's supposed to protect 'er, an that they aughta go talk to the old Indian chick cause she's got tons of ancient mystical knowledge an makes awesome Indian tacos. Brigitte won't leave without Ginger though, so Aragorn's left throwin' his hands up to the great spirit cause he's got nothin'.
Back outside, James' got Jo Jo netted like a dolphin on a Japanese dock an starts yellin' at Wallace to get his hind end out there an do some heavy duty 'splainin'. So Wallace comes out an tries to get Jo Jo to heel an agree to take a tick bath but the kid just ends up growlin' at 'im like he's too close to his bowl an makes a run for it an Wallace has to pull out his pistol an put Jo Jo down. Havin' to put your wolf boy to sleep is one of the hardest things any father ever has to do, but there comes a time when you've gotta think about what's best for the wolf boy an do the right thing. Meanwhile, the girls sneak out the doggie door around the back side of the fort an go lookin' for an old Indian or Gypsy woman to help 'em out when they run into Milo an ask 'im to show 'em where Aragorn hangs his hat. The girls're pretty impressed, but also in a hurry so then they ask 'im to show 'em where Aragorn lives an they head out. But a little while later they get separated an Ginger ends up... well, lets put it this way, nobody's mangled a Milo this badly since the Japanese made The Adventures of Milo and Otis. She's real sorry though, so they press on an eventually find Aragorn's cave an the old Indian babe tells 'em they're SOL cause they were supposed to kill the boy BEFORE gettin' bitten. Well that's just lovely Mrs. Monday Morning Quarterback. So then the Seer tells 'em about how the Brits an the French brought the curse over with 'em from Europe an ever since it's been spreadin' like women's legs when Marvin Gaye comes on the radio an that it's been foretold that two sisters would come an that their deaths would decide the way of things. Aragorn also tells 'im that their ancestors believe that "those who live always live," so if this sorta thing happens again in a couple centuries to try an act surprised. Then Brigitte drinks a bowl of liquid peyote so she can see the future an after 'er eyes turn black like a Betazoid she sees 'erself shank Ginger like a prison snitch. When she wakes up, the Seer's been shredded like a lousy credit card offer an Aragorn gives 'er this look like he's about to revoke 'er kennel license an she tells 'im about killin' Ginger in 'er vision. This jives with his own vision cause he's supposed to keep 'er alive long enough to get Ginger into a kill shelter, an on their way back to the fort he tells 'er she'd better not wuss out or the land'll suffer forever. Apparently his vision had somethin' to do with fracking too, weird. No pressure though, you blow it an we're all goin' the way of the Aztecs. Will cut here to avoid ending spoilers.
Alrighty, well, if ever there was a movie that needed the Halloween III treatment, it's this one. And if you think that Halloween III was a crime, at least they didn't pitch Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Myers back into the 19th century. Not yet, anyway. Realistically, this movie doesn't need the Ginger/Brigitte characters. They don't fit in, they don't really add anything to the movie, and very honestly if they'd left them out and focused on The Hunter's character, it would have been significantly better. I realize how crazy that sounds since up to this point the interaction between those two characters was an integral part of what made the series successful, but they just don't belong here. There's really no way to write this plot that can keep any semblance of their original characters intact, and still allow them to fit into the era. Too much of Ginger's dialog includes rampant sarcasm and feature lines like "you hit like a girl," and "these people are fucked." They don't fit into this movie, and yes, while it's certainly clear that they're supposed to be their own ancestors, it still doesn't work. It's not too surprising that these writers don't have many other credits to their names. I thought the writing in the second movie was starting to slip, but the writing here didn't just slip. It slipped, fell down the stairs and threw out its back after leavin' its cell phone in the other room so it can't even call for help. It's really kinda funny to think that the main draw of the movie (for most people), the presence of Isabelle and Perkins, is actually what runs it into the ground. The main attraction is an anachronism. When they can't be the characters they were in the first two movies, it really isn't necessary to have them at all. It seems as though they were walking a very fine line trying to keep the characters at least somewhat similar to the previous movies, without making their behavior completely incongruous to the time period, and they just couldn't do it. I dunno about anybody else, but the only scenes I really enjoyed involved Nathaniel Arcand stickin' it to the arrogant white guys an massacrin' werewolves.
Okay then, lets throw this husk on the spit an see what barbecued worg hair smells like. The plot, in and of itself isn't really a problem. The inclusion of the Fitzgerald characters and the way those characters are written is the problem. As I mentioned earlier, remove the protagonists, make The Hunter the focus, and you've got a movie. So the premise itself is fine, it's just that with those two characters in it, the whole thing smacks of fan fic. The acting is okay, in the sense that that was the way the characters were supposed to act. The writing is positively rank when it comes to the sisters' characters, and at this point all the edginess of the first movie has been completely amputated. Everything about them just seems so restricted, because after you've seen the first two movies, you don't expect this level of timidity. All the life's been sucked out of them. That said, all the other characters really aren't bad at all. They're reasonably well defined even without going into too much detail about each of them, and they're all interesting enough to stand on their own without the Fitzgerald characters. JR Bourne is particularly good as the asshole, James, who is able to make you hate him without resorting to any of the usual lazy shortcuts writers often use to generate contempt for a character. Here's who matters and why: Emily Perkins (Blood: A Butchers Tale, Ginger Snaps 1 & 2, Stephen King's IT), Katharine Isabelle (Torment 2013, Vampire 2011, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Hard Ride to Hell, Ogre, Ginger Snaps 1 & 2, Freddy vs. Jason, Carrie 2002, Bones, Disturbing Behavior), Nathaniel Arcand (The Unknown 2005), JR Bourne (The Butterfly Effect 2, Severed 2005, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Thir13en Ghosts, Return to Cabin by the Lake), Adrien Dorval (Super Hybrid), Brendan Fletcher (Bloodrayne 2 & 3, Ogre, Alone in the Dark 2005, Ginger Snaps: The Beginning, Freddy vs. Jason), Matthew Walker (Stargate: The Ark of Truth, The Wicker Man 2006, Absolute Zero, Alone in the Dark 2005), David MacInnis (Santa's Slay), Jake McKinnon (Halloween II 2009, Land of the Dead, Ginger Snaps: The Beginning, House of 1000 Corpses, Wishmaster, From Dusk Till Dawn, Puppet Master 4 & 5, Trancers 4, Mandroid 1 & 2). As with Ginger Snaps 2, we've got a pretty serious infestation of TV actors again for the normies. We've got Nathaniel Arcand who played Scott Cardinal in Heartland and Victor Merasty in Blackstone, as well as JR Bourne who was Mr. Argent in the Teen Wolf TV series, Hugh Dillion who portrayed Ed Lane in Flashpoint and Mike Sweeney in Durham County, and Tom McCamus who was Mason Eckhart in Mutant X.
The special effects remain true to the spirit of the first two movies and feature only well constructed, conventional effects. The werewolves change a little in each movie, but it's not really a big deal. I think of the three movies these werewolves were probably my second favorite, with the original still being the best looking. Not too much else though, as this one dials back the gore even more than the second movie did. We've got a pretty decent looking wolf boy, a blood spurting guard bein' dragged away, a Tarantino-esque severed jugular with five yard spray capability, chewed face, sword stabbing, knife stabbing, arrow through the wrist, mutant attack leech, leech jelly, and some frostbitten werewolf claws. Quality is fine, but quantity is lacking. The shooting locations are great, and perhaps the high point. The fort looks really nice and fairly authentic, both inside and especially the outside. And since most of the movie takes place there, if you're able to get beyond the presence of the two girls that just don't seem to belong (which I never could, as you've probably gathered), it adds sufficient atmosphere. The other significant setting is the snowy forest surrounding the fort, which gets a decent amount of screen time as well, and may exceed the fort in terms of atmosphere generation. Really good cinematography on this one, oh and look, the cinematographer's still getting work, isn't that interesting. You've also got the cave sequence and the deserted Indian village which look fine, but don't play as big a role as the other two locations. The soundtrack isn't bad, but again I find myself distracted by the presence of the two girls. They're even horning in on what at times should be a really epic sequence with a great musical score, and in the back of my mind I'm hearing; "these people are fucked," and am never able to take the really pivotal tracks seriously, particularly during the climax. This is not due to any fault of the soundtrack, and I've no doubt that anyone who can move beyond that problem will thoroughly enjoy the soundtrack and find that it improves their overall enjoyment of the movie. Bottom line, I can't take this movie seriously. It's just too out of sync both with the first two movies and even with what I expect a prequel this far in the past to be. And because of the year of its production, I really can't enjoy it on the same level that I could an 80s movie that has the same problem. So if you can get past my own personal objection, it's probably worth your time, but if that seems problematic for you as well, skip it. Either way, it's definitely the weakest of the franchise.