Ginger Snaps, now streaming on Peacock, is one of the best werewolf movies ever made. The 2000 Canadian film offers a unique spin on the well-trod lycanthropy mythos, using it as a metaphor for adolescence and female sexuality. Boasting fantastic practical special effects and some top-notch body horror, Ginger Snaps is a meaty movie, with lots for a critic, viewer, or, yes, werewolf to bite into.
Sadly, it’s also a movie where a lot of dogs die.
A Sad Look Back at the Good Dogs Who Die in Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps stars Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle as Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald, two teenage sisters who style themselves as goths, are into morbid stuff, and don’t really have any friends other than one another. They live in rural Ontario, in a town called Bailey Downs, and the movie begins with the gruesome discovery of a victim of the so-called “Beast of Bailey Downs.” A mother is raking leaves in her yard when her toddler discovers a bloody, severed paw. She picks up her son in concern and then screams in terror when she sees that their beloved golden retriever, Baxter, has been mauled and ripped in half with blood and guts everywhere. There’s one dead dog, 90 seconds into the movie, before the opening credits have even begun.
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The canine carnage continues. As Brigitte and Ginger are playing field hockey during P.E. class, a bully named Trina Sinclair shoves Brigitte into the gruesome corpse of another dog that was just lying in the middle of the field. (That nobody seemingly noticed this dead dog or thought to move it off the grass before playing field hockey is another issue.) Some boys in the bleachers note that this is the fourth dog the “Beast of Bailey Downs” has killed this week. The mysterious dog murders are adding up.
Brigitte and Ginger decide to continue with the theme of dog endangerment by kidnapping Trina’s dog Morely in revenge, swapping him with the body of one of the many deceased dogs to be found in Bailey Downs. But, when they do so, Ginger is attacked by the Beast of Bailey Downs. It’s a werewolf, and Ginger Snaps’ take on lycanthropy is much more dog-like than the bipedal beasts of films like The Wolf Man. Ginger’s mauled but escaped, and the Beast of Bailey Downs is hit by a truck and obliterated. If you count werewolves as dogs, that’s another one down.
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Ginger, who has also just started her period (thematically linking the Moon-based monthly cycle of werewolf transformations to the menstrual cycle and the trauma of puberty is Ginger Snaps’ true brilliant conceit), heals from her mauling, but it’s clear that she’s transforming. There’s a nifty fakeout where we’re led to think that Ginger, who is bloody and puking into the toilet following a hookup with a boy that got kind of feral, killed and ate him. But, instead, she just killed and ate the neighbor’s dog, Norman. Later, it’s implied that Ginger killed and ate Morely, Trina’s dog, too.
There are additional deaths in Ginger Snaps, though we won’t spoil what species the victims are here. (Let’s just say there’s at least one more furry fatality.) All of which adds up to Ginger Snaps being one of the first great horror movies of the century — a must-watch for horror fans. Dog lovers, though, might wanna skip it. Because despite its accomplishments, it’s a bit brutal in that regard.
Ginger Snaps is now streaming on Peacock.