Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)
Directed by: Grant Harvey
Written by: Christina Ray, Stephen Massicotte
Starring: Adrien Dorval, Brendan Fletcher, Emily Perkins, Hugh Dillon, JR Bourne, Katharine Isabelle, Matthew Walker, Nathaniel Arcand, Tom McCamus
GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING (2004)
Directed by Grant Harvey
Trilogy available on Limited-Edition Blu-ray Box Set from Second Sight Films
Set in 1815, sisters Ginger and Brigitte are travelling through the Canadian woodland when one of them falls foul of a hunter’s trap. After being freed by a Native Cree hunter, they are taken to Fort Bailey where they seek aid and refuge. Not everyone is thrilled about the arrival of the sisters but the men stationed at the fort have bigger fish to fry when they find themselves under repeated attack from creatures lurking in the woods. Quickly running out of supplies, time is against them, but with certain death lying outside the barricaded gates, they have little choice but to hunker down until they come up with a plan of survival. Little do they realise that the danger isn’t just lurking outside, but on their very doorstep.
The third film in the werewolf trilogy, GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING is a period fantasy horror set in the 19th century that supposedly follows the ancestors of the doomed Fitzgerald sisters. What we actually have is essentially a retelling of the first Ginger Snaps story but within an historical setting. The beats are the same (Ginger is attacked; Ginger begins to transform; Brigitte tries to save her sister) but the circumstances, events and outcomes differ somewhat to the modern day version we see in Ginger Snaps. In effect, it’s a prequel to the first film but not necessarily a true prequel.
In GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING, werewolves are already present in Canada – the frightened soldiers at the fort and the bloody scratches on the gate a sure giveaway that the beasties have attacked multiple times before now. The predicament that sisters Ginger and Brigitte find themselves in is that they were able to travel through the woodland unscathed by the creatures to end up at the door of Fort Bailey, home to the Northern Legion Trading Company. This raises suspicion from the offset with the soldiers based there, who lost a party of their own men – 36 men who had travelled to Hudson’s Bay in york boats to trade animal pelts in exchange for winter provisions but had failed to return. They face hostility from the get-go from their fellow humans as they’re seen as troublesome women; potentially bitten by the creatures that roam the woodland, or perhaps even witches. Either way, their presence is unwelcomed but thankfully head soldier Wallace is a more reasonable type and orders his men to stand down and to give the sisters refuge.
Ginger and Brigitte aren’t the only ones to face prejudice and aggression from the soldiers. The native Cree hunter and helper Milo in the fort regularly receive racist abuse from the white soldiers. Even Wallace gets stick for having married a Cree woman, who sadly died along with his son after being attacked by the werewolves prowling the woods. This bubbling pot of animosity is ready to boil over at any moment which makes the environment incredibly hostile and temperamental. The survivors should be sticking together to fight the beasts that lurk outside camp, but instead they are willing to turn on each other in an instant, such is their fear and paranoia.
Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins bring a familiarity to this fresh environment, acting very much like the inseparable duo we witnessed in the first film, albeit their circumstances very different. They quietly suffer through the changes Ginger begins to experience, having to strategically plot a way to make it through and survive this unfortunate set of events. However, unlike the first movie, the existence of werewolves is common knowledge and a common enemy – the sisters don’t have to fight them alone. But this leads into other problems where everyone is paranoid about being holed up with someone who’s turning into one, and thus the Fort’s residents are on high alert to take out anyone who poses a threat to their survival.
GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING feels like a reunion of sorts. We have elements that tie back into the first movie, such as the bone necklaces and the leeches (in what can be described as a scenario inspired by the blood scenes in The Thing). We also have the return of familiar characters and actors, with Brendan Fletcher as the librarian Jeremy in Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed reappearing in the film as Finn. We even have Second Unit Director from Ginger Snaps and producer of Ginger Snaps 2, Grant Harvey, taking the helm as director. Throughout the trilogy, this tight-knit group of passionate film makers have stuck together and delivered a vision for their female-led werewolf series of movies and it shows – the Ginger Snaps trilogy is a film series that is full of heart.
Though not quite as impactful as the previous two movies, especially with the film retreading familiar ground, GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING still has much to offer within its period, fairytalesque approach, and wonderfully sews up the trilogy to a resolute conclusion.
Second Sight Films have released this bumper-packed Limited-Edition Box Set of the GINGER SNAPS TRILOGY with all three films on Blu-Ray, and each disc brimming with extras. The trilogy comes packaged in a rigid slipcase featuring new artwork by Michael Dunbabin, along with five collector’s art cards and a 112-page book with new essays on the film from Meredith Borders, Kat Hughes, Dr Rachel Knightley, Mikel J Koven, Jolene Richardson, Zoe Rose Smith, and Caelum Vatnsdal.
Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning Blu-Ray Special Features (Second Sight Films)
Audio Commentary with director Grant Harvey, co-writer Steve Massicotte and editor Ken Filewyth
For fans of the movie, this audio commentary gives all the juicy details you’d want, from the concept of creating a remake and the ideas behind it, to the juicy details of what we see on screen, such as the choice of settings and locations, and the editing of the movie. The trio break down various elements of the scenes that play out and how they fit in with the fairytale vibe they were going for.
Snap! An Interview with director Grant Harvey (22 mins 50 secs)
In this new interview, Grant Harvey talks about his time at film school where he met and worked with John Fawcett on the short film, Half Nelson, before being called up for second unit director on the first Ginger Snaps movie. Harvey discusses the first film and its reception, before moving onto the two follow-up movies, providing details on their approach towards Ginger Snaps Back and the idea to opt for a fantasy feel after John Fawcett commented on how cool it would be to see Ginger and Brigitte with swords. Great insightful interview.
Girls on Film: An Interview with Producer Paula Derbyshire (19 mins 59 secs)
In this new interview, Paula Derbyshire gives background on how she came to be involved with Ginger Snaps 2 and 3, and how she always liked horror movies with a human element and had something clever to say, which drew her to Ginger Snaps. She discusses the work and challenges of filming the two movies back-to-back and provides insight into that whole process.
Production Design (5 mins 51 secs)
Behind the scenes footage of production designer Todd Cherniawsky who talks about the fort design and how Ford Edmonton was perfect for the movie as Fort Bailey. Shot on location at the time of production, this is a great look at what the locations and ideas for the film were, with the team planning shots with miniature models and discussing details, such as the fort’s gates. The featurette is interspersed with footage from the movie so you can compare what it ends up looking like on film.
Costume Design (3 mins 29 secs)
In this featurette, we get a closer look at the different pieces worn by Ginger and Brigitte, as well as the costumers of the Reverend and the Hunter.
Blood, Guts and Fire (8 mins 33 secs)
Behind the scenes look at some of the makeup and blood-soaked scenes, such as those involving Cormac, James and Wallace, as well as footage from the fire stunts from the shoot.
Wolfboy (1 min 53 secs)
Behind the scenes footage of the makeup prosthetic for Geoffrey, the wolfboy, and some footage from the rehearsals.
Fun On Set (3 mins 41 secs)
Footage from the shoot, capturing the fun, light-hearted moments enjoyed by cast and crew.
Deleted Scenes (13 mins 2 secs)
A selection of deleted scenes including Old Wives Tales with Finn when the sisters first turn up to the fort; Extended Dinner Scene; You Lie scene with the priest; and Extended Burial Scene.
Deleted Scenes with commentary from Grant Harvey, Steve Massicotte and Ken Filewych (13 mins 2 secs)
Sames as above scenes but with commentary.
Grant Harvey’s Video Diary (9 mins 50 secs)
Director Grant’s video diary from the shoot and production of Ginger Snaps Back. Great look at behind the scenes including costume department, location footage and set creation.