Ginger Snaps (Fawcett, 2000)

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Watching Ginger Snaps for the sixth or seven times, like most great films, something new jumped out at me. I’ve always seen the film as a reflection of my own high school psyche, at least an externalization of a lot of feelings I was experiencing. I was never as extreme or misanthropic as the Fitzgerald sisters, even at my worst. This time though, it occurred to me that I had always looked at this film as a strange kind of erotic fantasy. Erotic may be too extreme a word…

Though the film paints an extremely sympathetic portrait of female adolescence and sexuality, I think it (knowingly or not) also mythologizes female friendship. I don’t think this is by any means a bad thing, and even though the implication would be incestuous, the comparison stands. The friendship between Bridget and Ginger is disturbed, passionate and enviable. It’s something, in my own weird way that I’ve always yearned for and envied. The perversity does not escape me, neither does it discourage nor taint that desire for that kind of friendship.

The film idolizes the relationship between the sisters, and I don’t think it is without reason. There is something incredibly powerful in female relationships. It seems to be tied, intrinsically to sex and identity, and this film seems to fit as much with transformative films like The Fly and An American Werewolf in London, as it does Persona.

The film begins with the two sisters bound, already one. It’s an interesting reversal, as most of the film courses the degradation of their relationship. The idea of womanhood, sexuality and men is what disturbs the careful balance. More than anything else, it’s the involvement of male figures that changes their dynamic, as Ginger is suddenly moved by her sexual desires, and abandons her younger sister.

This is more than just a destruction of the sister’s relationship (in a way, it reinforces their bond to a certain extent), but reflects a tumultuous inner transformation that is externalized through the symptoms of lycanthropy. A discussion about Ginger’s “first time” (more ways than one), is seemingly about her blood lust, but is as significantly about her insignificance now, she is “just a lay”. Even though there never seemed to be any respect or mutual understanding in her relationship with the boy, she suddenly sees the attachment of purity and how she will now be perceived. This is at once, a reflection of Ginger’s insecurity but it goes far deeper than that. Her fears are not unfounded, and it takes much less for girls to be perceived as sluts, even in the film.

What was I saying? Why does this film feel like such a violation… the film is like an assault on innocence and femininity… you enter sex into the equation and the purity and intensity of female friendship is completely destroyed… Though there is never a deeper friendship or sensuality than between Bridget and Ginger than at the beginning of the film, it is still sexless. We can’t help perceiving it through the male gaze, adding meaning and resonance that does not exist…but once real disruption of this thought process occurs, everything falls apart. I feel like I’m talking around in circles, ranting, revealing too much of my fragile sexually frustrated emotionally crippled psyche that this film never fails to draw out of me.

Any latent lesbianism that I exhibit is all part of a yearning for the impossible, a bond that I could never hope to have with another woman. It’s not about sex, it really isn’t. It’s about something more, or something less. Ginger Snaps… it’s apparently snapped me :/

I’m not sure of this is a spectacular film; a lot of it is odd, and clumsy. The final act never quite gelled for me on a technical level, though it is as emotionally potent as everything that precedes it. I can’t even say it inspired me in the right way, it’s the kind of film I would love to make, and probably would given the chance. I wish it could inspire some coherency, because I think my thoughts on it are lovely, as disturbed and maniacal as they may be.

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3 responses to “Ginger Snaps (Fawcett, 2000)

  1. I get what you mean about kind of envying the closeness of the girls. I think the filmmakers intended to simultaneously celebrate female friendships and illustrate the clammy, unhealthy side of being too close to somebody, so close that you don’t really have your own identity. Growing up, they needed to split up somewhat or they’d end up lonely old spinsters together. But the split would be pretty agonizing in real life, and the film takes that and turns it into something supernatural and truly horrible.

    For me, one of the most exciting but also upsetting moments comes when Ginger pretty much makes a pass at Brigette, saying something like, “We’re barely even related anymore.” At that point she’s almost pure id, and she’s acting on an attraction that would normally be sublimated or repressed. She’s becoming truly evil, and it doesn’t matter to her that she could be really traumatizing her little sister, all she cares about is satisfying her own cravings. In a way, that’s maybe the film’s darkest moment, darker in some ways than the killings. It’s a very brave moment, because it takes something that would normally go unspoken in a movie like this, and puts it in your face and makes you deal with it.

    God, poor little Brigette, huh? Between this and that (lousy) sequel, she’s just about the most cursed movie character I can think of.

  2. Lovely response, thank you for it ❤

    That moment about Ginger's yearning and it's suggestion of possible incest actually never occured to me. You mention it though, and it kinda sends a chill down my spine and I remember my moment, and that is definetely there. I'm going to have to let that fester for a bit, because it is eerie and it is traumatizing.

    The sequel is pretty bad, though it started off decent enough… it just… didn't… work.

  3. Pingback: Best Horror Films of the 2000s « House of Mirth and Movies

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