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GINGER SNAPS 2: UNLEASHED (2004)
Director: Brett Sullivan

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: almost every movie gets a sequel. Even movies you wouldn't expect to get a sequel probably get one. Possibly the most sequel-driven genre of all is the horror film. Just about every horror movie ever made has a sequel (or group of sequels), prequel, or knock-off. Even the most obscure foreign horror movie can get a sequel or two. Such was the case with the Canadian import Ginger Snaps. The tale of a pair of sisters whose tightly-knit familial bonds are tested when one becomes a werewolf, it became a cult classic upon its release in 2000. It was only a matter of time until the sequel was made, and that sequel came in the form of Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed.

GINGER SNAPS 2: UNLEASHED (2004)Picking up sometime after the events of the first Ginger Snaps, Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins) is on the run from a werewolf looking to mate with her. Infected with the lycanthropy virus and haunted by recurring visions of her dead sister Ginger (Katherine Isabelle), she has managed to slow down her transformation with a daily series of monkshood injections. After a particularly strong dose of monkshood and an extremely close escape from the werewolf, Brigitte passes out in the street and awakens in an all-girls drug rehabilitation facility. Facility supervisor Alice (Janet Kidder) confiscates her monkshood, and without steady injections, Brigitte's transformation into a werewolf begins to speed up.

Among the encounters with Alice and a shady male nurse named Tyler (Eric Johnson), Brigitte is befriended by an eccentric girl nicknamed "Ghost" (Tatiana Maslany). Unlike the other girls, Ghost gets to roam the grounds freely because she's keeping her grandmother company while she recovers from severe third-degree burns in another section of the facility. While Ghost is antagonized by the various rehab patients because of her odd behavior (her obsession with comics often leads her to speak like a comic-style prose), she and Brigitte become a close-knit pair, much to Brigitte's initial reluctance. When Brigitte discovers the horny werewolf from earlier has found the clinic, Ghost helps Brigitte escape, and together they head to Ghost's grandmother's house for refuge. Ghost discovers that Brigitte is turning into a werewolf herself, and tries to help her new friend delay the transformation. Of course, things don't always go as they're planned. The male werewolf finds them once again, and Brigitte's tenuous grip on both her sanity and her humanity begins to slip away as the lycanthropy overtakes her.

It's very hard to have a sequel that's up to the same par as its predecessor. The list of "better than or equal to" sequels isn't exactly long. Ginger Snaps 2 isn't an equal to the original Ginger Snaps, but it's close. A lot of its quality is helped by the acting ability of its star. Emily Perkins is great as the would-be werewolf Brigitte, and she carries the whole movie on her shoulders. While she had Katherine Isabelle sharing the spotlight in the original Ginger Snaps, she does all the grunt work here. The Brigitte character pulls a transformation akin to Linda Hamilton in the Terminator movies, and Perkins pulls it off believably with her impressive performance. Tatiana Maslani also puts in a decent performance, giving off a creepy vibe which is really fitting for the character by the end of the movie. Maslani does what she can with what she's given, but the character gets really annoying at times. I can only handle hearing her talk in prose so many times before I just want to reach through the TV screen and strangle her. I did, however, enjoy Katherine Isabelle's appearances as Ginger. I loved her in the original Ginger Snaps, and though she didn't have much screen time, I loved her here as Brigitte's ghostly anti-conscience.

Also good were the special effects by KNB EFX Group. I've been a fan of KNB's work for a long time, and I appreciated their work here. Unfortunately, a lot of their best stuff is hidden by insanely quick flashes. A hummingbird couldn't see most of their work. However, the visible effects were great, especially Brigitte's facial makeup near the end of the movie. Kurt Swinghammer's score was also good. I preferred Michael Shields's score from the original Ginger Snaps, but Ginger Snaps 2 has a different tone that requires a different score. The industrial/techno-esque stuff really worked, and I absolutely loved Swinghammer's reprisal of the original's theme. My only real complaint with the movie (other than Ghost being so annoying) was Megan Martin's script. It wasn't bad as a whole, but a boring stretch in the second act and some cheesy dialogue are big knocks against it.

Ginger Snaps 2 tries hard, and can call itself a success. A lot of sequels are just retreads or remakes of its predecessor, but this one takes a different step and I commend it for that. I give it three and a half stars; no more, no less. Recommended to fans of the first one and fans of werewolf movies, but viewers would serve well to watch both movies back-to-back.

Final Rating: ***


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