Those Fitzgerald sisters; always getting themselves into trouble. While we bid adieu to elder sibling Ginger (Isabelle) at the conclusion of the original film, that hasn't prevented her from appearing in the second two installments of the popular series. In Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, Ginger served as something of a spirit guide to Brigitte (Perkins), and in the prequel, Ginger Snaps Back, we are introduced to the sisters anew, although this time they are their own frontier romping ancestors.
Ginger and Brigitte are lost, seeking passage back East through the harsh Canadian wilderness. When Brigitte steps into a bear trap, she is rescued by a mysterious native hunter (Arcand) who escorts the pair back to an outpost where the occupants are more than a little on-edge. It seems that this outpost has been under siege by what the Indian's refer to as the Wendigo, shape-shifting creatures that have claimed the lives of most of the inhabitants of the outpost. When Ginger is bitten by the infected son of the outpost's commander, she slowly succumbs to the blood thirst, and it's left to Brigitte to choose whether to kill her beloved sister, or let her live, assuring that the "curse" will follow the Fitzgerald woman; together, forever.
The first thing that struck me about Ginger Snaps Back was how good this film looked. The art direction and cinematography are some of the best I've seen in any genre for quite some time. The fact that this is, essentially, a low-budget film, speaks volumes for its creative team as they obviously pulled out all the stops to assure that Ginger Snaps Back looked like a film that cost ten times as much. I was also really impressed by the unique angle taken with the familiar tale of the Fitzgerald sisters, and the inclusion of the curse goes a long way toward explaining one of the gnawing questions from the first film (which I won't give away here, suffice it to say it has something to do with their mother's actions once she realizes that her daughter has become a werewolf). The film features spectacular special effects, a few solid scares, and, for the most part, decent performances from the principal cast. I was a bit thrown by the occasional addition of "hip" dialogue (i.e.; Ginger declaring that the resident's of the outpost were "Fucked") as it seemed completely out-of-place, but, for the most part, the film is played straight with mercifully little self-aware humor.
The DVD from Lion's Gate is packed with extra goodies, including a commentary track, deleted scenes (w/ optional commentary), behind the scenes segments, bloopers, and more. The transfer looks fantastic, and the 5.1 Dolby soundtrack is suitably booming and effective.
Ginger Snaps Back is not just a great addition to a fun franchise, it's a film that could have easily stood on its own without any connection to the Fitzgerald sisters at all. It's a bit like a frontier version of Dog Soldiers, with a few touches of the classic Ravenous thrown in for good measure. Consider the addition of the lovely Ginger and Brigitte a nice bonus, as the characters are effortlessly woven into the fabric of the frontier storyline, and the whole thing adds a nice touch of history to the Ginger Snaps mythology!
Excellent stuff and highly recommended!