Even in our modern age of 'chick-flicks' and 'rom-coms' that allegedly delves deep into women's sexual trials and truths, there are some issues which never get treated 'openly,' i.e. brazenly and even-keeled, like: female orgasms, menstruation, and unplanned pregnancies that end not in hasty marriage or adoption but abortion, done without guilt or shaming yet not making light of it either. The censorship codes of our grandparents post-code film die hard. Raunchiness is strictly for teenage boys, or hot girls like Emma Stone, Cameron Diaz or Katherine Heigl trapped in bromantic comedies with dudes well below their stature. That's why films like OBVIOUS CHILD (2014) and GINGER SNAPS (2000) are so shocking, and instantly relevant, like needed feminine mystique injections into a cinema choked with hormonal boy's gym clothes rankness and squeamish back of the bus tittering.
|Slate at Cross's.|
There's such a perfect flow between Slate and the material it's hard to believe it's all not happening in the moment with special attention to the way people actually talk --not 'normal' people, the kind of banal life-affirming doltishness Hollywood jadedly associates with the 'true America'--but real young Williamsburg-dweller college-educated witty individuals -they are not normal dudes and dudettes, or even rote hipsters. Instead there is the same kind of keenly-observed, brilliantly modulated comedic interaction I've seen only in the best 'ensemble' female comedy teams--Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph in BRIDESMAIDS (2007) or Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer in BROAD CITY (Comedy Central, season two coming soon!) for example--women who've done enough improv and rehearsal to make their characters breathe and roll rather than submitting to some half-assed plot twists thrust on them by some clueless male or self-hating female screenwriter whose low opinion of young women is masked by feminist lip service (the grating dimwittedness 'hipster' girls in JUNO and FRANCES HA for example).
Younger Brigitte, meanwhile, has to begin the scary task of trying not only to help her sister by finding a cure and then cooking it up and injecting it, but by pulling away from their sacred death pact and passing judgment against the 'right' of might, i.e. killing humans is not a moral problem for werewolves, anymore than steak for most 'normal' eaters, but Brigitte isn't ready to make that moral jump in reality instead of art. There's a few boys and meals to the side, including a helpful chemist/horticulturist/pot dealer who seems partially inspired Josh Hartnett's character in THE FACULTY (1998), but more than anything, this is a girl's horror movie, bloody like the menses-minded wolf.
There's still a few problems like the less-than-stellar werewolf effects (there's no real transformation money shot ala HOWLING or AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, which is fine), the kinds of problems which could have been covered by CGI, but digital effects were still, as we learn in the extras, too expensive at the time, and now that CGI is so pervasive, GINGER's reliance on analog latex is retro-cool and adorable anyway, but the fact that it's still scary and touching, that this latex head is believably Ginger, is all due to Emily Perkins, who makes scenes with the transformed Ginger come alive in ways the monster on its own could not. Like Slate in OBVIOUS CHILD we can read all sorts of inferences in Perkins' eyes--her understanding of the impassive rubber wolf mask's little gestures makes the mask come alive for us as well. She brings home the real sadness of being stalked by your own sister, the only soul in the world you trusted, who know wants you to kill your new and only other friend to prove your devotion. With her sullen long face hidden in a deep foxhole of long protective hair, Perkins is so great and her rapport with Isabelle so solid, the minor problems all melt away and only beautifully framed horror film tableaux. The only work closest to it I can think of is Geena Davis in THE FLY (1986).
The wealth of extras include a somewhat rambling making-of documentary, deleted scenes, previews, and two separate commentary tracks. In these the director John Fawcett makes sure we know he's the feminist behind this, not all the women who worked on it, like co-writer Karen Walton (though she does get her own commentary track and surely had a hand in the rightness of the dialog, the way Debra Hill did on HALLOWEEN). They're currently working on the hit BBC show ORPHAN BLACK together so they must still be tight -- but he'd be a lot better off letting Walton take more credit; hell, Jack Hill even invented a woman author for his SWINGING CHEERLEADERS script (Fawcett does have some slyly deprecating things to say about the final monster, and how they had to keep it in shadow a lot to keep up the scariness --a nice way of saying it sucked - though he was the one who insisted it be hairless and albino, terrible choice, John!) There's also some insight into the tax-funded Canadian film industry (there was a backlash when the script was sent around to casting agencies because Columbine had just occurred), audition tapes from the early part of the process, and what the actors look like now (or Emily Perkins anyway, who seems like a completely different person, above)
But the real juicy extra is a panel of female horror writers and filmmakers discussing menstrual horror films that deal with women's sexuality and how drastically apart films like GINGER SNAPS are from the bulk of slasher films and how that imbalance is an expression of man's horror of gynecology and the female orgasm, the scariness and pain for the girl of her first period being something a man can't quite face, and the way females can only achieve orgasm in movies if they also kill their lover immediately (or else are killed, for their sin). They give some love to the underrated JENNIFER'S BODY (see my praiseful post Dead Jennifers), CARRIE (of course), and VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS, a film that could really use a blu-ray itself. And they seem to agree with me that TEETH is a nice idea that totally fails as a film, its makers second-guessing and sewing members back on right up to the time I turned it off (see here).