Cult Classics: Ginger Snaps Discussion, Part 2 of 3

21 Nov

Now we turn out attention to Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed with more Katharine Isabel and Emily Perkins! This installment of the Ginger Snaps series was released in January of 2004 and directed by Brett Sullivan, the film editor for Ginger Snaps.

 

First we have aesthetic differences. It’s winter now, not fall, and we’re not in the suburbs. Snow aids the steeper white/black contrasts in the first half of the movie, and lower lighting makes for faster falloff. It’s not a seemingly happy suburban place where events are so incongruous with the setting that they are almost automatically funny. Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed more steadily adheres to a conventional horror aesthetic. The humor is still there, but it’s in the characters’ reactions to things, not in the events themselves. It’s a lot less campy and more about simple sentences or facial expressions.

Because the enemy is not a protagonist you’re watching change but an unknown stalker lycan, this installment makes great use of point of view. The viewer never really knows whom to trust, and there is a constant feeling that the viewer shares the position of the spying entity at times aligned with Brigitte, Ghost and even Stalker Lycan.

While the ever-memorable death of the dog repeats itself, the movie is rife with inconsistencies or at least reconsiderations of truths established for us in Ginger Snaps. Once again the traditions of werewolf lore are moot, but no real distinction is made by the clinic between monkshood and wolfsbane. Ghost’s comics mention wolfsbane, too. Maybe they’re just ignorant characters, or maybe the movie details are sloppy. Who knows? People to whom I don’t have access so we’ll move on.

As long as we’re talking about monkshood, we have to talk about the cure.* In Ginger Snaps, Brigitte stabs Jason (Jesse Moss) with a syringe, and he’s magically cured and runs away. Brigitte is so excited that she’s found the cure that she recklessly infects herself so Ginger will trust her. In Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed the monkshood only slows the change, and the more you use it the less effective it becomes. Eventually the monkshood seems to make her change faster! I suppose we could “scientifically” say that the infection rises up to fight the monkshood. Her body rejects it, and her latent wolf traits manifest. Once again, does this change our understanding of the Ginger Snaps mythos, or is this an example of directorial oversight or artistic license? To answer this, we need access to a character no longer available to us. Where is Jason? Could it be that the insidious Stalker Lycan is he? Hmmmm?

Speaking of lycans, the title of the movie IS partially Ginger Snaps, and Katharine Isabel IS on some of the movie posters. What does she represent in Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed? She pops up whenever Brigitte finds herself particularly affected by the curse – about to inject herself with monkshood or about to make a kill….

She isn’t the sister figure anymore because Ghost clearly wants and in certain ways usurps that role in Brigitte’s life. She’s not really an angel or a demon on the shoulder, and she certainly doesn’t encourage. I maintain she simply represents the lycan within, especially when Brigitte hallucinates the Stalker Lycan’s face with Ginger’s voice. I welcome any other theories.

So if Brigitte fights the change and Ginger welcomes it, why? Even when Brigitte embraces her instincts she doesn’t accept her destructive nature, just her need for blood. The animal is already dying when she gets there. Why does Brigitte get to be the hero, the Cullen, Angel, who only eats animals as long as she can help it? Werewolves don’t often get this luxury because the change is usually instantaneous and out of their control. Brigitte knows she’s turning, but she can fight it – whereas Ginger just gets scared and goes with it, acting out like a typical angsty teen addicted to lycanthropic power. So what’s so special about Brigitte?

Brigitte: “I’m not like you, Ginger. I’m stronger.”

Ginger: “Oh, really? That’s not how I remember the first fifteen years of your life.”

Brigitte: “It’s how I remember the last fifteen minutes of yours.”

The distinction is there. Why? Especially when Brigitte doesn’t get to overcome. She gets to be a “hellhound.”

What about sexuality? Ginger succumbs to her lust whereas Brigitte just smells people (“I have a great sense of smell.” Haha). So where do we stand with sex in the sequel? There is absolutely nothing about Brigitte’s menstruation, but she is sexualized by Jeremy, Tyler and even her counselor (“Lesbian?”). Brigitte experiences a sexual awakening (absolutely insane tutorial on female masturbation…), but it’s frightening because it’s explicitly tied to her transformation. Sex is still equated to killing.

Regardless of how Brigitte thinks of sex, lots of things are being said about sex. Tyler trades sex for drugs, Ghost says she’s molested… Sex is the mechanism for the “reign of moral terror,” and then by proxy lycanthropy is. We are still killing men in the name of our sister, and it’s pretty much just nuts.

Speaking of killing people in the name of our sister and molestation, let’s turn our attention to Ghost. At first, she’s the prophet who speaks in verse. Then she’s the author who pens what she sees. Then she’s the artist who recreates what she sees. Then she’s the adopted little sister. I wonder if this movie speaks to the nature of children or how people think of children. At first you may think Ghost is a precocious child – enamored with fantasy and a little nosy and annoying. Her enthusiasm goes beyond the kind you’d see in Doctor Who when the Doctor and Rose meet a werewolf (or Charles Dickens…). She doesn’t just glory in the moment. She makes the moment her own.

Tyler: “I don’t think she knows what’s real and what’s a cartoon.”

Brigitte: “That’s convenient. You get off on that, don’t you?”

Based on this exchange, we shouldn’t treat children as if they don’t know what’s going on or as if they’re unreliable, but Ghost is totally unreliable because she’s absolutely crazy cakes, which completely undercuts any idea that all children are innocent or stupid or easily lost in an imaginary world. Unless it doesn’t.

Ghost clearly creates a story – “Comics are very incoherent. Their makers send them out into the world unprepared for all the demons and enemies they’ll face. I assess their weaknesses… make them stronger.” She’s not stupid or innocent. She’s a master manipulator. So when she loses herself in a world of her own creation, she is no longer capable of representing all children because (I cannot stress this enough) she is totally crazy cakes. Fact.

Ghost is the only one who really sees Brigitte though. There are certain things about Brigitte’s time in the rehabilitation center that don’t really make sense. For instance, the introduction is someone (presumably Brigitte) shaving her entire body (presumably because it is covered in hair because she is turning into a werewolf). By the time she’s in the institution (if it’s her and not Ginger from the first movie or some other random Lady Lycan), she should be super hairy. She also has scars all over her arm so she’s a suicide risk. She’s not allowed a razor. How is she not COVERED in hair? If she is, she could cover it, but they keep taking her blood and looking at her arm. Do not tell me she has been shaving with the shard of glass she hid under the sink in the bathroom. I will not believe you. Not only that, but does no one really notice that she has hands like the pads on paws? And adorable puppy ears?

And do her doctors not notice that she seems to look worse the longer she’s in rehab? How long does withdrawal last? Seriously.

The wolf in the movie isn’t the white wolf like Ginger. The Stalker Lycan actually looks like a giant wolf, not a giant white wolf-thing. It has hair all over its body and a snout that looks like a more appropriate length for its size. It also has the teeth to match. My complaint would be its arms. It’s so much better than the werewolves in Ginger Snaps though that I can’t really complain at all. I’m not going to compare Stalker Lycan to Remus Lupin though. The comparison isn’t fair.

In terms of transformation, Brigitte kind of goes back and forth. Her arousal and her rage provoke transformation, but calming down or injecting herself will reverse or slow things a bit. Of course she cuts her ears like Ginger tries to cut her tail. Hiding, hiding, hiding. She can’t hide her face though. Whereas Transforming Ginger looks like a klingon, Mostly Brigitte just looks deformed – like she has elephantiasis or like her face is sliding off.**

In that scene when she confronts Tyler about Ghost, she kind of looks like a hot demon though, which evokes Ginger pre-klingon days.

I will end with one of my favorite parts of the movie: the scene in which Brigitte files her teeth. Que cute!

Fondly,

Susan

*As promised to be discussed in part 1

**As will be discussed in part 3

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