Tag Archives: Eric Johnson

How ‘Ginger Snaps 2’ Finds Comfort In Independence

Those who have been following this column for a while might remember when I wrote about 2000’s lycanthropic classic Ginger Snaps. It’s a truly brilliant film that focuses on the experience of a young woman getting her first period and going through puberty while also gradually transforming into a werewolf. It’s what Uterus Horror is all about, and one of the most influential films in the entire subgenre.

In Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, there is a shift away from the biological correlation between young women going through puberty and lycanthropic transformations. Instead, this sequel highlights the experiences of a young woman growing into her independence and sexuality. 

This 2004 sequel was written by Megan Martin (Cult, The Following) and directed by Brett Sullivan (Orphan Black, A Christmas Horror Story), the latter having previously worked as editor on the first Ginger Snaps. Picking up an undisclosed amount of time after the first film, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed follows returning character Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins). Last we saw, Brigitte had killed the werewolf version of her sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), but not before she infected herself with Ginger’s blood. Now, Brigitte is living in seedy hotels, regularly injecting herself with monkshood to stave off her transformation. 

At first it seems like Brigitte might be on the run from her parents or the law, but after a vicious attack it becomes clear she’s running from a male werewolf that has been following her since she left Bailey Downs. Brigitte awakens after that attack to find herself locked in a rehab center for teenage girls. Unable to access her supply of monkshood, she must rely on the help of Ghost (Tatiana Maslany), an odd young girl staying at the center while her grandmother recovers in the burn ward, and a sleazy orderly named Tyler (Eric Johnson). 

Throughout this entire film, Brigitte is trying to be her own person. In the first film, she is almost an extension of her sister. Brigitte and Ginger were inseparable, and Brigitte was always the quiet, meek one who did whatever her big sister said. Yet, between struggling with the same werewolf infection and being plagued by visions of her dead sister, it’s almost impossible for Brigitte to get out from Ginger’s shadow. 

In this new environment, where none of the other rehab residents or staff know Brigitte’s past, she is able to be her own person. She’s still fairly quiet and generally keeps to herself, but she also exudes a power she didn’t before. Brigitte has a determination to stand up for herself, as well as an unrelenting survival instinct. With some help, she uses the resources at hand to outsmart the staff to get ahold of the monkshood and escape, knowing that it has to be done to save herself, just as much as those around her.

Brigitte even goes so far as to try to save others from danger, lycanthropic and otherwise. There is a great conversation between Brigitte and imaginary Ginger where Brigitte firmly states she will survive this because she’s stronger than Ginger was. When Ginger points out that isn’t how she remembers the first 15 years of Brigitte’s life, Brigitte replies, “It’s how I remember the last 15 minutes of yours.” This is a pivotal moment for Brigitte to really show the audience that her experiences in the first film made her a tough, capable young woman who will stop at nothing to survive her fate.

What I love about film, and art in general, is that it is so subjective and often open to interpretation. While watching Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, the events that lead to Brigitte becoming her own woman are apparent to any viewer. What some viewers might not pick up on is how Brigitte’s journey throughout this film can also be seen as a metaphor for her coming to terms with her queerness. 

In Ginger Snaps, Brigitte is presented as a generally non-sexual creature, likely due to her age and the fact that she hasn’t gone through puberty yet. In Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, many of the men around Brigitte express a sexual interest in her, but the only time she even remotely returns those attentions are when her hunger for flesh bubbles to the surface. Even Tyler, who all the other girls fawn over (in part because he supplies them with drugs in exchange for sexual favors), can’t hold Brigitte’s interest. 

There is really only one moment in the film when Brigitte seems to genuinely express a sexual desire. One of the group activities Brigitte is forced to do at the rehab center is some kind of meditation session. All the girls lay on yoga mats with a therapist facilitating. Brigitte begins to hallucinate, imagining she heard the therapist instruct the girls on how to masturbate. Believing she sees the other girls doing it, Brigitte begins to touch herself, but she is abruptly awoken from this daydream when she imagines her hand has become a frightening, hairy werewolf claw. 

Earlier in the film, Brigitte is in her first group therapy session. Since Brigitte is new and everyone is curious about her, the therapist asks what her “best-case scenario” is. Annoyed at her present situation, Brigitte chooses brutal honesty and goes into the gory details of a lycanthropic transformation including excessive hair growth, affection for feces, and eventually death. When she’s done, the therapist writes one note next to Brigitte’s name: Lesbian?

This scene is played off like a joke at how oblivious the therapist is about Brigitte’s situation, but she might not be far off. As we’ve seen, Brigitte typically has very platonic relationships with men, while she seems more protective of the women and imagines a sexual situation with them. It seems as though the closer Brigitte gets to becoming a werewolf, the more her sexual desires come to the surface, and those desires are more focused on women than on men. Unfortunately for Brigitte, she never really gets the opportunity to explore this side of her sexuality. 

The Ginger Snaps films continue to be a shining example of Uterus Horror and the many different facets of this subgenre. The first film focuses on a Uterus Horror story of puberty and burgeoning sexuality. Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed focuses on becoming your own person and coming to terms with your queerness. It’s a compelling story utilizing Brigitte’s lycanthropy to incorporate horror and emphasize her journey of self-discovery. You might even say a larger audience can relate to Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed over the original. It not only speaks to the experiences of women, but the experience of anyone who had to fight to be their true self.