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Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

-Review by Nic Brown-

The legends of creatures that are part human, part beast, have been around since the dawn of time. Perhaps the most prevalent one is the legend of the werewolf. GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING is the third film in the GINGER SNAPS franchise that follows sisters Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Bridgette (Emily Perkins) as their love for each other is put to the test by the curse of the werewolf.   


The third installment is actually a prequel that is set in 1815 in the wilds of Canada near the Hudson Bay. Bridgette and Ginger find themselves alone in the woods after their parents are killed when their boat overturns. They are found by “The Hunter” (Nathaniel Arcand) an Indian guide and he takes them to a fort run by the Northern Legion Trading Company. It is the farthest western outpost at that time.


The sisters find themselves less than welcome at the fort. The trading party due back with supplies is two months overdue and the fort itself is under siege by nightly attacks by werewolves. The surviving inhabitants of the fort are paranoid that the girls might be cursed. Fortunately the leader of the fort, Wallace Rowlands (Tom McCamus) takes pity on the girls and offers them what shelter and protection they can offer, despite the protests of the fire and brimstone spouting Reverend Gilbert (Hugh Dillon) who is sure the girls are in league with the devils outside.


Rowlands’ hospitality turns out to have a steep price for the girls when Ginger is bitten by his son. The boy is infected with the werewolf curse and is slowly changing into one of the creatures. Rowlands has the rest of the fort believing the boy is dead so he can protect his son, but now Ginger is infected. The Hunter takes Ginger to the wise woman who explains that she and her sister are foretold in the prophecies of her people. Ginger (with red hair) is “The Red” and Bridgette (with black hair) is “The Black” and when the Red and the Black come they will either break the curse [of the werewolf] or they will make the line stronger to plague the land for years to come. Of course to break the curse Bridgette must kill her sister. So the question becomes will Ginger give in to the curse and slay her sister or will Bridgette kill Ginger to break the wolf’s line? It is a true test for the love these sisters share for one another that may result in something that defies the prophecy of the wise woman and her people.


Although GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING is the third film in the GINGER SNAPS series, it works well as a stand alone movie. The film has a dark and foreboding feel to it, with its remote wilderness locations that create a since of true isolation and help build tension for the characters. The effects for the film are definitely worth mentioning as director Grant Harvey went for more traditional make up and model effects instead of relying on CGI to create the werewolves for the film. The wolves themselves are somewhat humanoid in appearance, but they run on all fours and are larger and more dangerous looking than traditional wolves.


Perhaps the film’s biggest strength though are the performances by Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as the sisters prophesized to end or strengthen the werewolf line. This is the third outing for the pair and, although the setting is different, they are basically reprising the same roles as before. Isabelle plays Ginger as a strong and determined woman. Her performance as the one cursed to undergo the change and possibly kill her own sister is excellent as she conveys both deep fear and remorse coupled with a certain wild exhilaration about what is happening to her. Perkins plays Bridgette at almost the opposite end of the spectrum. Shy, dependent upon her sister, and fiercely loyal, she is convincing as the sister who must choose which path their destinies will take. The chemistry between the two actresses makes the film work on a deeper level than your typical horror film and really ropes the audience in to caring about what happens to the sisters. So if you’re looking for a good scare and a good story, check out GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING and remember to beware of the moon.

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