MoviesGinger Snaps Back

Ginger Snaps Back is one of three movies in a trilogy, an increasingly common practice in franchise. Instead of moving the events forward, the movie takes a step backward to further explore the series' mythology. In this case, Ginger Snaps Back is technically the third film in the series, but it happens before Ginger Snaps and Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed.

The two sisters in Ginger Snaps are reunited in this film: the red-haired, sultry Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and the raven-haired, cautious Brigitte (Emily Perkins). The movie takes place in 19th century Canada, where they stumble upon carnage at an Indian camp and then later discover a trader's fort on the outskirts of Canadian civilization. The residents are a motley crew of French, English, and American Indian; all of them battle-hardened men who have seen things they thought were only myths. And those things are werewolves.

The movie retells the original story with less swearing and teen angst. Ginger is essentially the same character, but she is visibly restrained--eye-rolling sarcasm doesn't play well in the 19th century. Bridgette, on the other hand, is more prominent. She looks people in the eye, holds her chin up, and doesn't hide her face with her hair. Unlike Ginger Snaps, the girls have to worry about a lot more than boys and popular girls mocking them. Though the werewolves lurk outside the fort, the men inside are just as dangerous.

Ginger Snaps Back is not without its stereotypes. All the American Indians are mysterious and in touch with nature. The Indian known only as the Hunter (Nathaniel Archand) is the hero of the tale, flinging tomahawks and spearing werewolves with ease. He also happens to be the only one sustaining the fort after a hunting party never returns with supplies. It doesn't help that none of the men trust the girls. Not Reverend Gilbert (Hugh Dillon), who looks magnificent as a gun-toting holy man. Not James the angry soldier (J.R. Bourne), who likes to hit women. They only find friendship in the kindly Doc Murphy (Matthew Walker) and the leader of the fort, who has secrets of his own.

As a separate film, Ginger Snaps Back does not hold up well. The bond between the sisters is simply not believable unless you've seen the first movie. The ending prophesized by the Indians never happens…or, if you've seen the other two films, does happen, just a century later. In other words, this prequel is just a setup to the first film, but if you haven't seen the first film it loses a lot of character development. Unlike the Star Wars series, you should NOT see Ginger Snaps Back first.

A few elements are added to the werewolf mythology; specifically, killing the original werewolf that bit you frees you from the curse (ala American Werewolf in Paris). This is never proven in the film, so we may never know if the theory holds true. However, the mysticism seems out of place given that the first two movies stuck closely to logic and reason (as much as a film about werewolves holds to any logic and reason).

The supporting cast does a serviceable job. Perkins and Isabelle act exactly as they did in Ginger Snaps, as if transplanted directly from the original movie. In other words, neither actress tries very hard to act as if they were actually from the 19th century, which is jarring given the painstaking efforts to recreate a historical tone and mood.

Ginger Snaps Back overreaches itself, struggling to craft a new tale with characters that can't support its Message of Sisterhood, a message that was done better by the first film. And since you need to see the first film to appreciate the ending of the Ginger Snaps Back, it ultimately fails in as a prequel and as an additional entry to the series' mythology. A good effort, but unnecessary… lycanthropy and pubescence are horror enough without any 19th century dressing.