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Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed (2003)

by on 2012/11/24

“Kind of has a Manson family charm.”

* *

I’ll never forget the first time Gru and I saw Blade: Trinity. It actually made us think a bit less of the previous parts in the trilogy, which took some doing given we enjoyed them so well.

I regret Unleashed has done something similar for my view of Ginger Snaps. Unfailingly manipulative and ultimately sadistic, it abandons much of what made its predecessor exceptional.

Taking place in the winter, far from Bailey Downs’ suburbs, we find Brigitte (Emily Perkins) living a junkie’s life, alone and delusional in a motel room. Her titular sister (Katharine Isabelle) we see onscreen maybe five minutes in total.

Convinced a werewolf is hunting her, Brigitte flees, trips, and falls in an embankment, unconscious. She wakes in a throwback hospital, in considerable disrepair . . . that is, both the building and herself. From here on, the entire movie resembles the early asylum scenes of Terminator 2, as if set in the 1920s, and “inspired” by David Fincher. Perhaps with a little Twelve Monkeys and Misery too.

Sound promising? Well, don’t hold your breath.

There isn’t a whole lot more than unending torment, predicated on cruelty, with lycanthropy serving as a metaphor related to addiction, bullying, self-harm, terminal illness, or whatever. It’s hard to get past the relentless suffering, drudgery, torture, and death.

Ginger Snaps was a dark comedy. Unleashed is merely dark. It has zero humour. Its lone “quirky” character is not a bit funny, but trying. Meticulous oppression, joyless labour, hopeless nihilism . . . all of these concepts fairly describe the experience.

The production reflects such fictional angst, leeching out any life through craft. From the tumbledown grunge of the locations and sets, drably lit and colour timed a translucent sickly teal, to the lurching angles and intercut flashes of gore, the oppressiveness is effectively conveyed, for better or worse.

The score by Kurt Swinghammer evokes similar work by Trent Reznor, with an ambient industrial backing, and frequently serving foley duty. Percussion forms the beating heart throughout, with filtered tones and static overlaying dragged objects, light switches, slammed doors, and syringes being plunged.

The irony is, the production’s success just strengthens my sense of aversion. If only it weren’t so professionally wrought, I might have found B-movie fun. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but I’m left feeling deeply dejected.

I mentioned Blade: Trinity earlier, and comparisons keep springing to mind. Unleashed is the Temple of Doom of its series, the Fly 2, the Alien 3. It takes our investment of money and time and — perhaps most critically — expectation, and deliberately dismisses or disrespects them.

At least you don’t need silver to put this abomination down.

* *

Rated 18A

94 minutes

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