Ginger Snaps: Unleashed DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Seville Pictures
Directed by Brett Sullivan
Written by Megan Martin
2000, Region 1, 93 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on April 13th, 2004
Emily Perkins as Brigitte
Katharine Isabelle as Ginger
Tatiana Maslany as Ghost
Janet Kidder as Alice
Eric Johnson as Tyler
Brendan Fletcher as Jeremy
Patricia Idlette as Dr. Brookner
In 2000, a small werewolf film came out of Canada and quickly became a cult classic. The film was Ginger Snaps, and it had an original script, a great cast and terrific special effects.
Now, two years later, the first sequel has hit DVD — Ginger Snaps: Unleashed.
Does it hold up to the original?
As far as sequels go, a howling yes.
Picking up some time after Ginger Snaps, Unleashed opens with the original’s heroine, Brigitte (Emily Perkins – Stephen King’s "IT"), in a library trying to borrow various books on blood-letting. The librarian, Jeremy (Brendan Fletcher – Freddy vs. Jason), who is doing his best to hit on her, tells her he’s not allowed to lend books to someone who owes money. He’s obviously going to cut her a break, but B quickly exits before he can. She returns to her room at a seedy apartment — where she proceeds to shoot up.
Toward the end of Snaps, Brigitte and her sister, Ginger, mixed their blood when B cut their palms and they grasped hands (a la the “blood brother” ritual). B’s intention was to prove solidarity in Ginger’s time of metamorphosis, but the only point she managed to prove was that when you swap blood with a werewolf, you become one yourself. So, B has been injecting herself with monk’s hood because the belief held at the end of Snaps was that monk’s hood was a cure for lycanthropy.
It’s a Band-Aid on a 6-inch gash. It’s barely a temporary fix.
Through cutting experiments and journal entries, B has come to the frightening conclusion that her body is slowly, but surely, becoming immune to monk’s hood. It’s only a matter of time before she becomes what she killed her sister for becoming. And time is running short.
After injecting herself with another dose — and a “visit” from Ginger (Katharine Isabelle — Freddy Vs. Jason, Insomnia) telling her she’s been found — a knock at the door brings the young man from the library, bearing the books she had wanted to check out. Part Boy Scout, part horn-dog and all bad timing, Jeremy is proof nice guys finish last. Well, maybe not last, but definitely not in one piece. Because Jeremy isn’t the only male that has been looking for B.
After the brutal attack leaves Jeremy eviscerated, B manages to escape. She is able to run some distance before passing out in the snow from exhaustion, shock, the effects of the monk’s hood or the combination. When she awakens, she finds herself in a bed in what appears to be a hospital. She should be so lucky.
She’s in a rehab clinic.
Now B’s life is really turned upside down. Locked down without access to the monk’s hood — the only thing keeping her from turning into a wolf — and another werewolf looking for her, people are going to die.
One of the great things about Unleashed — like its predecessor — is its script. While the dialogue is not quite as good as Snaps’, the story manages to be original — even if it is a sequel. Far too often, horror sequels bail out on a good story and just “tweak” the original (see the Friday the 13th series and the Halloween series — sans the 3rd). Unleashed not only delivers a fresh idea, it makes enough nods to its predecessor that watching the original before Unleashed, while not a necessity, is recommended.
In Snaps, the story centered on Ginger and her transformation from girl to woman, freaky to popular, outcast to predator. Unleashed deals with Brigitte not only attempting to control the change, but attempting to escape another lycanthrope that is hot on her trail — and looking to mate. And she has to do all of this while attempting to acquire her monk’s hood from a creepy hospital orderly, Tyler (Eric Johnson). The movie has all the traditional “vs.” covered. — man vs. man, man vs. nature and man vs. himself.
Also, like its predecessor, Unleashed has great performances. Emily Perkins, as Brigitte, really comes into her own in the movie. At first glance, Perkins’ character seems weak. But deeper study shows Brigitte is a far cry from weak. Not only is she stronger than Ginger ever was, she has many more issues to deal with. And Perkins absolutely nails the role of the troubled Brigitte. She shows even more depth to the character than in Snaps. Much credit should go to first-time writer Megan Martin, as she managed to do something very few sequels do: She developed Brigitte’s character based on the trauma Brigitte went through in the first film. Perkins has the fangs to tear into the more complex character, and with ease.
Nipping at Perkins’ heels is Tatiana Maslany. As Ghost, a girl who befriends B in rehab, newcomer Maslany does a more-than-adequate job of showing there is more than meets the eye to Ghost. She is definitely one to watch, as Ghost’s manic behavior demands you keep at least one eye on her every time she is on screen because she bounces around more than a crackhead with ADD looking for a fix. Playing Ghost would be no easy job for a seasoned actor, and Maslany not only takes the part in stride, it would be hard to imagine anyone else in that role.
Rounding out the supporting cast are Eric Johnson as the perverted Tyler and Janet Kidder (Darkness Falling, Bride of Chucky) as the tough-love doctor, Alice. While both are capable in their roles, the real magic happens when they interact with Brigitte. Perkins not only plays well off both actors, they seem to shine a little more when they are sharing a scene with her. Again, while the dialogue is not quite as strong as Snaps’, the scenes between Perkins and the other actors are top notch.
Note, the script is not bad — it is actually quite good. But when compared with the original, it is not quite as good.
What is really missing from Unleashed is Ginger. While she is in the movie for brief scenes as B’s “devil-on-the-shoulder,” the lack of screen time is noticeable. One of the best things about the original was the synergy between Ginger and B. While Perkins manages to bring out the best in those on screen with her, her relationship with Ginger was on another level and the obvious closeness of the two sisters is missed.
However, the most is made from the few scenes Ginger and B share. While Ginger constantly tries to persuade B to give into the change, B constantly fights her. This inner battle only solidifies the idea that B is a much stronger young woman than her sister ever was, because the only thing she ever focuses on is avoiding the change, while Ginger — more or less — let it happen. Yet, even as she has grown stronger, B has problems living in her sister’s shadow — even if Ginger is dead.
One curious thing: Could the werewolf hunting Brigitte be Jason McCardy from the first movie? McCardy was infected from a different type of fluid swapping with Ginger, but was supposedly “cured” with monk’s hood. Well, from the get-go, it’s established that the monk’s hood is a temp fix. And when Ghost asks B where the other wolf came from, B simply tells her “the suburbs.” Although it’s never out and out said where he’s from, the clues are there. Kudos to the writer for this subtle touch.
All in all, Unleashed isn’t the powerhouse Snaps was — are sequels ever? — but a good story and great performances not only save this from being another run-of-the-mill sequel, they make it an extremely watchable movie.
Video and Audio:
Shown in 1:78:1 anamorphic, the Canadian DVD release of Unleashed has an above-average presentation. For the most part, the blacks are deep and the colors are natural, but there are scenes where the blacks lose their depth and some artifacts are visible. Comparing Unleashed with the Canadian DVD release of Snaps, I was a tad disappointed because the latter has a beautiful transfer.
Presented in English 5.1 or 2.0 or French 5.1 or 2.0, Unleashed sounds fantastic. With terrific use of the rears for ambient sounds and, at some parts, a good workout for your subwoofer, it is a great sounding disc. While I was a bigger fan of Mike Shields’ score in the original Snaps, Kurt Swinghammer’s industrial mix in Unleashed grows on you. However, I don’t think it will hold up as well as Shields’ work.
- TV Spots
- Deleted Scenes
- Behind the Scenes
- Ginger Snaps 3 Teaser
- Director's Commentary
- Ghost's Comic Book Art
- Brigitte's Journal
Like the Canadian DVD release of Snaps, the Canadian DVD of Unleashed packs quite a wallop with its special features.
First, the commentary consisting of producers Noah Segal, Paula Devonshire and John Fawcett and director Brett Sullivan, is well worth a listen. Granted, there is a bit of “so-and-so did a good job here,” but the commentary is entertaining nonetheless. It provides some tidbits and behind the scenes information and doesn’t stray from what’s taking place on screen.
Ghost’s Comic Book Art and Brigitte’s Journal are a few pictures from each in a photo gallery type feature. You can either view them as a slideshow or look at them individually.
The auditions consist of tests for Tatiana Maslany, Janet Kidder, Eric Johnson and Patricia Idlette. A fun watch at least once and a much better choice of a feature than your average “HBO First Look” filler.
The behind the scenes feature runs just over 20 minutes and is broken up into five chapters, each of which can be watched individually. A definite watch as it shows how some of the special effects, including the werewolves, were accomplished.
The television spots, deleted scenes, trailer and teaser are the standard fare — although I have watched that Ginger Snaps 3 teaser quite a few times.
Overall, an impressive special features package.
Admittedly, I had high expectations for this movie, as I thought the first was great. And, again admittedly, I tried not to compare Unleashed to the first too much, but sometimes it couldn’t be helped. The bottom line is, if you own the first, this is a must buy. And if you don’t, you should buy it and its sister right away.