Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning

Shot back-to-back with Ginger Snaps 2, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning: The Beginning is a prequel set in the 1815 during a Canadian Winter. It once again stars Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as Ginger and Brigitte, although these are the foremothers of the characters we’ve grown to know over the past two films. They behave and speak identically to the modern-day characters, though, so it’s really just an excuse to have these characters both (1) alive and (2) in a different time and place.

The two in this film are orphans, wandering around in the cold. An elderly Indian woman is at a seemingly abandoned camp, and she tells them that they must “kill the boy.” Soon after, they’re brought into a trading post filled with all sorts of colorful characters. A hunter, a reverend, a doctor, a soldier, and a half-werewolf boy. Nobody knows about the half-werewolf boy until Ginger hears him crying while wandering around at night and gets bitten. Yes, we’re doing that again. I think it would have been more interesting to see Ginger take care of Brigitte, not the other way around. We’ve seen this already.

Regardless, the girls now have to hide Ginger’s transformation from the rest of the group, who are stuck in the trading post without supplies, constantly being hounded by a pack of werewolves. Eventually they seek out Indian medicine, have a big fight with the Werewolves, have a few confrontations with everyone else, and reinforce their sisterly bond. If there’s one recurring theme throughout these films, it’s how important sisters are to one another.

It certainly isn’t in the way lycanthropy is treated. In the first film, it functioned as a metaphor for puberty. In the second, it was a stand-in for withdrawal symptoms. Here? I’m not sure. It doesn’t seem like there was anything. This story works more like a fairy tale than the other two, but the whole werewolf thing doesn’t seem to be used as anything other than a plot device. It feels less intelligent as a result. It is lacking in an area we’ve come to praise.

What it does do differently is present to us a bit more of how lycanthropy came to be, and how it can be stopped. It brings with it some of the mythology of the entire situation, which I suppose is how we can have any werewolves almost 200 years in the future. This means we get dull exposition. Explaining — or extensively showing — the horror makes it less scary. I don’t really want to know why werewolves exist or how to stop them for good. I just want to see how their curse impacts lives, and how characters deal with it after being infected.

We get that. We get to watch Ginger slowly transform, and Brigitte protect her and look for a cure. A more human aspect comes in the form of the half-werewolf boy, whose subplot lends a touch of humanity to the mix. Nobody wants to see a small child separated from his father, right? We haven’t really had anyone but Ginger or Brigette infected; it’s interesting to watch how it impacts others. That’s the only instance of this. The rest is about the sisters.

Given how this film ends, I’m not entirely sure how it can lead to the first chapter. From that you can probably determine how Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning ends. If you have figured it out, consider exactly how that impacts the future. And if you can’t figure it out, (1) think a little and (2) watch this film anyway. Maybe the later characters are reincarnations. That would make some sort of sense, and would also loosely justify why, with small changes, this film is just a re-do of the first one. The Natives do mention reincarnation.

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning is not dull. It’s fun to watch these two characters once again together. Seeing the period changes, the slight personality differences, and an addition of secondary characters is enjoyable. There are more werewolves this time around and far more of them die, too. The costumes and makeup are great. It’s fun, even if it doesn’t make sense, to hear the same snarky attitudes from our leads that we’ve grown to love over the last couple of films. It might slightly discredit the old-time feeling, but I’m okay with that.

None of the supporting cast leaves an impact. I’m not sure if that’s purposeful — the main theme being the sisterly bond the girls share, meaning we don’t need anyone else — but it’s true. Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins are still great in the characters they first brought to life four years earlier. It would be entertaining to watch them do anything together. The two actors feel like real sisters, and the dialogue given to them aids this.

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning suffers from the law of diminishing returns. The first film was fantastic, the second film is very good, and this one is just good. It’s still worth watching, in large part because of its two leads, the chemistry they’ve developed and the dialogue they exchange. This film adds to the mythology of the werewolf curse, bring in supernatural elements, and plays out more like a fairy tale than its predecessors. It’s well worth seeing and serves as a good, but not great, third chapter in the Ginger Snaps series.

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