In 2001, a little horror film by the name of Ginger Snaps reinvented the werewolf genre. It successfully married substance and style, an area in which a great deal of genre flicks fail miserably at. It not only has terrific horror running through its veins but also has a brain and a heart. Now we are being treated with not only Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed but a prequel called Ginger Snaps Back. Like most filmgoers, I too am skeptic when it comes to sequels especially when it’s spawned from a pivotal horror film. But to my surprise, Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed delivers the goods.
This latest chapter focuses on Brigitte’s lonely struggle against the temptations of the werewolf virus that is growing within her. Unlike her sister, Ginger, she refuses to give in. She injects monkshood into her system in order to fight off the transformation. Brigitte eventually ends up at a rehab center that takes away the drug that?s been keeping her from killing everyone in sight. Just as things could not get any worse, Brigitte must also fend off a stalking, bloodthirsty werewolf, who has the intention of mating with her. She befriends a mysterious teenager named Ghost, who helps her with both battles.
Unlike most sequels, Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed has a solid script that contains a story that builds from where the first one left off. The film tackles new themes and directions. The tone of the film is much darker than the original but it still retains its wicked sense of humor. The supporting characters are refreshingly fascinating. They are dark, twisted and unpredictable.
First time director, Brett Sullivan (editor of Ginger Snaps) manages to stay true to the feel of the original but also, takes the story and the character of Brigitte into fresh territory. He successfully creates a good atmosphere and builds some solid suspense. The special effects by KNB are top notch, as always. The werewolf effects look particularly terrifying. The film looks every bit as good, production-wise, as Ginger Snaps.
This sequel also contains surprisingly strong performances from its cast. Emily Perkins is once again terrific as Brigitte. She is poignant in presenting her character’s isolation and struggle with the werewolf curse. But newcomer, Tatiana Maslany who plays Ghost, is the film’s secret weapon. She has created an original and captivating character that by the end of the movie, you actually want to see more of her. Tatiana brings an understated complexity to a character which on the surface seems to be anything but that. Both lead actresses are also very effective with the black humor. They play it with masterful subtlety.
Despite all these strengths, the film is still not better than the original. Its pace weakens towards the end of the second act but it recovers in the film?s strong third act. In particular, the ending is surprisingly unforgettable. Overall, I found Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed a very worthy follow-up. It’s darker and nastier than the original. The film retains the spirit of the original but is smart enough to also go its own direction. I wish more sequels would follow this path.