J.D. Lafrance
Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed DVD Review

Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed

July 4, 2002

Director: Director: Brett Sullivan,
Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Tatiana Maslany, Janet Kidder, Eric Johnson, Pascale Hutton, Patricia Idlette, David McNally, Susan Adam, Shaun Johnston, Jake Mackinnon, Brendan Fletcher, Lydia Lau, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

With Ginger dead, it’s now Brigitte’s turn to fight the burning desire to grow a snout and devour human flesh.

The second of three movies involving girls turning into werewolves, Unleashed doesn’t focus so much on the deceased Ginger as it does on little sister Brigitte, so really it should be called Brigitte Snaps. The original Ginger Snaps movie won a cult following for its unique female view on lycanthrope and the effect it had when one sister got infected and the other searched for a cure. Sure, the gore was cool, but it was the relationship between Brigitte and Ginger that raised it above its low-budget Canadian horror roots.

The sequel sees Brigitte alone and hooked on Monkshood, the herbal remedy she uses to remain in human form. Unfortunately it’s not a cure, just a time delay, and things are made even worse when she’s taken to a mental hospital because the authorities mistake her for a suicidal drug addict. With no Monkshood it’s only a matter of time before she changes and kills everyone. But something is following her in the dark and has a craving of its own…

Director Sullivan (editor of the first Ginger Snaps) never quite recreates the drama of the first film, relying on a heavy plot that sees character development fall by the wayside. He’s so busy trying to make everything interesting, he forgets that a simple scene with two people talking can be just as effective as running and screaming. Scenes start and finish as quickly as possible so you don’t have time to question the plot holes, and you’re left feeling rather uninvolved (it’s never made clear who’s chasing Brigitte – presumably it’s the idiot jock from the first movie). And on occassion it all looks rather straight-to-videoish, which probably explains its lack of theatrical release in the states.

Ginger has a cameo role as a ghost but you get the feeling she was an afterthought, and Sullivan plain forgets about her about halfway through the movie.

So that’s the bad stuff. This isn’t a total waste of time and as far as B-movie horror sequels go, it isn’t half bad. Ghost (Brigitte’s singular friend at the hospital) is an original creation, being both creepy and funny, sympathetic and evil, and towards the end her story starts to eclipse Brigitte with a clever Little Red Riding Hood riff. There are some good scares and if the script is slightly creaky, Perkins and Maslany give it 110%. The ending is even darker than the first movie – something not to be sniffed at in a world of 12A’s and growing knee-jerk censorship (thank you Janet Jackson).

Like the Matrix sequels, Ginger Snaps Back was shot at the same time as Unleashed, and will be released in the autumn – a prequel set in the 19th Century with both Ginger and Brigitte as the same characters in a past life who take refuge in a fort.

Ginger Snaps Unleashed is an odd beast. It’s a superior monster movie than its predecessor, but packs a weaker emotional punch. Perhaps with a bigger budget and Fawcett back at the helm, this could have been exceptional. As it is, it’s merely acceptable.

Special Features:

First off, the DVD transfer is terrible. Dark scenes (of which there are many) become red and pixelated. And the sound isn’t much to write home about either. You get the feeling the film was rushed onto DVD with no real care.

The extras aren’t too bad though, with behind the scenes snippets about everything from the make-up effects and casting to production design. There are deleted scenes and storyboards, but the best surprise here is a previously unseen trailer for the third film, which seems to suffer from the same limited budget, but reteams Ginger and Brigitte against a werewolf, which is the magic element missing from Unleashed.

The commentary is also surprisingly good, with input from John Fawcett, who directed the first movie, Sullivan, and the producers. Fawcett is so enthusiastic about the sequels that you start to wonder why he gave them to his editor and second unit director to make in the first place.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 70%



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