Ginger Snaps has developed a cult following among horror-film fans and Goth kids; Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed followed, but the confused film fared poorly at the box office. The third installment (2004) went directly to video; it doesn’t measure up to the first, but it surpasses the second.

Title: Ginger Snaps III: The Beginning
aka Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning and Hellwolf: You Will Be Eaten Alive

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Grant Harvey

Writers: Stephen Massicotte
Christina Ray

Katharine Isabelle….Ginger
Emily Perkins….Brigitte
Nathaniel Arcand….Hunter
JR Bourne….James
Hugh Dillon…. Reverend Gilbert

Adrien Dorval….Seamus
Brendan Fletcher….Finn
David La Haye….Claude
Tom McCamus…. Wallace Rowlands

Matthew Walker….Doc Murphy
Fabian Bird….Milo
Kirk Jarrett….Owen
David MacInnis….Cormac
Stevie Mitchell….Geoffrey
Edna Rain….Elder

Premise:

A pair of sisters and a conflicted group of men find themselves in a fur-traders fort in 1815, under siege by werewolves.

High Points:

1. This series has a fairly original take on werewolves. They don’t morph all at once ‘neath the full moon, but turn gradually as the month progresses. While they prove tough customers, they can be killed without special, mystic means; a lead bullet or a sharp hatchet will do nicely. To this new lore (and why not? The familiar lore has little to do with the old legends, and much to do with Universal Studios), Ginger Snaps III adds a particular use to which leeches can be put.

2.Ginger brings some unexpected guests to the fort. Fans of the series, especially, will love the finale.

Low Points:

1. Gilbert’s death is both unconvincing and unsatisfying: the former, because his clothes would not be as flammable as presented, and the latter, because we don’t see enough of the animosity between he and his killer. I really had hoped a certain other character would be responsible for his death.

2. The use of that most-stupid of horror-movie conventions: Ginger hears a strange noise at night, so she goes out to investigate. She already knows that danger is afoot, and she and her sister are among a group of very rough men who have not seen a woman in awhile. The character is not that stupid.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6. It’s a sequel and it takes a fairly conventional approach: a group of people in an isolated location barricade themselves against the monsters, but face serious problems within their own numbers. The tension between the sisters also follows the original film, though this one gives us fewer levels, and Brigette does not experience anything like the change in her character that we saw over the course of Ginger Snaps. However, the premise proves an original take for this particular series. Where lesser (though more popular) teen-oriented horror films generally revive the same old villain and then recycle the original plot, this film recycles its plot in another era, providing a kind of origin for the first two movies.

Effects: 4/6. The make-up is quite good, and the full werewolf creatures, which were a low point in the previous two films, have been improved significantly.

Story: 4/6. Unlike Ginger Snaps II, this film gives us a coherent, focused plot. Rowlands’ inner tensions, however, needed to be better-developed.

Acting: 5/6: The film fails to fully develop the inherent tensions, but the young women manage well, Stevie Mitchell proves suitably pathetic as Geoffrey, and Rowlands at least suggests the internal divisions which should have been developed further. Hugh Dillon disappoints as Gilbert. He handles the part adequately, but the Reverend’s tortured soul demands more. In all fairness, he shares this failing equally with the script.

Production: 5/6

Emotional Response: 4/6. The film plays with our loyalties, though not nearly as much as it should. I suspect, in the end, most people will simply root for the monsters, and for a decision which, presumably, perpetuates the curse and ultimately brings about the destruction of everyone in this movie, and those in the first two.

Overall: 4/6. Ginger Snaps III also plays with subtexts, particularly relating to gender politics and sexism, but it lacks the layered and often wickedly funny elements found in the original. …The Beginning gives us a neo-old-school horror film: it’s moody, it has a few funhouse frights, and it saves its big monster shots for the finale. It has great atmosphere, but few twisted laughs.

In total, Ginger Snaps III receives 29/42.