World vs Us vs World

Gingersnaps is a movie of two sisters (Ginger and Brigitte) in their adolescence — two close-knit, bonded-by-blood girls seeing the world as something they have to face together. Though categorized (and rightly so) as a horror movie, this wasn’t the regular fear-inciting supernatural storyline we usually see. What we get instead is a normal little town with a beside-normal problem: a monster lives in the forest, attacking dogs at night. Everything seems normal at first, except that the two sisters haven’t gotten their periods yet (late for their age) and that the two share an interest in macabre things like death.

This so-called normal world is interrupted by a freak incident. The conflict begins when Ginger is attacked by this monster (apparently, it’s a werewolf) one day — around the same time that she gets her first period. At this point, she starts acting very differently. She starts to like guys, she shows interest in sexual activities (though they both used to think it was repulsive), she wears clothes of a tighter fit, becomes much more aggressive, and last but not the least, she strays from the “us-against-the-world” pact with her sister. It’s all some normal growing-up stuff, but at the same time, Brigitte attributes Ginger’s behavioral oddities (Ginger “snapping” in other words) to her having been bitten by a werewolf. So what was the cause, really, the werewolf or the hormones? Somehow by asking that question you already see the comparison or the metaphor of being a pubescent teen with being a werewolf. Horror films attack those mundane experiences and capitalize on those because they already incite fear to begin with.

As Brigitte tries to find the cure to Ginger’s werewolf-ness, we see one of Noel Carroll’s points: that horror is driven by the desire to know. How do we defeat this werewolf? Silver bullets? She searches for a cure with the weed vendor and they find that injecting this flower extract works. However, she injects the Ginger’s first victim (who is also turning into a werewolf) and fails to administer it to Ginger. Ginger gets worse and attacks three more people while Brigitte tries to isolate and protect her. In the end, they are unable to give Ginger the cure and there’s another cure to it: Brigitte is forced to kill her own sister. We do find out the cure to our main problem, but one of the movie’s essential questions comes at me at this point: how far are you willing to go to save yourself and everyone around you? Will it mean going against your promises and going against the person dearest to you? We see two answers to that question, the first being “everything for the greater good” in Brigitte’s decision to kill her sister in the end, and the second being the opposite of that as seen in Brigitte and Ginger’s mother saying that she would torch the house down just so her children don’t go to jail for killing a girl.

As a moral allegory, this movie makes completely perfect sense.

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