Published at: March 10, 2001, 11:58 p.m. CST by headgeek
Ya know what I love about film festivals? You walk into a theater… you plant your ass down and you watch everything they show you till they close the doors.
Today I saw three films. When I arrived at the Convention Center, the headquarters and one of the impromptu screening rooms of SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST, I knew that I would come home and write about one film that evening. MEMENTO.
After seeing that film, I almost wanted to just leave and come home and write because I was in love. I felt that seeing another film this evening would be unfair and unjust to the two subsequent films. Besides… I wanted to write my review.
However, I decided to watch three… get my first day of the festival complete… If the following two films couldn’t survive being placed following MEMENTO then so be it… they die. But that’s the risk you take with every screening of a film fest.
The second film was BARTLEBY, a premiere of this Melville based Crispin Glover performed flick. It had a totally different tone from MEMENTO and put me in a happy mood. A giggly mood.
Two films in a row that I enjoyed… one of them being a GREAT film? What a lucky night!?!?!?!?
The next film scheduled was some ‘teen horror flick with lesbian goth chicks that turn into werewolves.’ Well… whatever, low budget horror is the best usually… but this thing… GINGER SNAPS? Terrible title… Mimi Rogers… It was gonna blow.
Well, tonight I have time to write about one film before going to bed. One film and that is it. I have an early screening of Linklater’s WAKING LIFE and I need to get some rest before that, but I can write one review before these fleshy curtains of mine close till dawn.
Within the opening 2 minutes you get the following image:
I was delighted and realized that while the movie may blow, at least it looks like they had some good makeup folks making this flick have moments.
I was completely unprepared. I knew it had played up in TORONTO, but I heard no real buzz through the festival. Anton Sirius had mentioned it, was supposed to do an interview with the director, but I never got any real excited vibes from last year’s TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL.
I figured it was probably sub-par or mildly entertaining at best.
First thing I noticed was that LIONS GATE owned the flick now… hmmm… it was picked up… Then the story unfolded. And you don’t get to hear a word about it. I won’t spill the beans, ruin moments or quote lines like I could and did in the hours since seeing the film.
What I will do is this… Remember THE HOWLING and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON? Remember HEAVENLY CREATURES? This film is EASILY as good or better than those. It plays two more times… and I’m at both screenings.
First off, before writing the review I did a bit of research… dig up some info on this flick. Turns out that at the TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, GINGER SNAPS won Best Canadian Feature Film – Special Jury Citation.
There is a reason.
First off, whatever maroon wrote the description of the film in the Festival Guide seemingly never watched the film. The girls are not lesbians… they’re sisters. They are not GOTH chicks in the fake black wearing manner… they rebel against life. Them against the world, against being a ‘girl’, against being cute and cuddly and all the BARBIE trimmings of life.
They unite in their hatred of normalcy and mediocrity. Boys and their desire to spray their insides in seminal gushings are the furthest things from their minds. Instead they relish being the only two people at the school that count in their eyes.
The girls… over the course of the feature become a pair of the most real… scared… terrified girls I’ve ever seen in a film. Their bodies betraying them, life changing all the real honest moments that you have in HEAVENLY CREATURES or FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, but none of that film’s absurdity. There are light moments, but only because in reality… these moments would be ironically funny, but this isn’t EVIL DEAD 2… this is closer to Cronenberg’s THE FLY. This isn’t LOST BOYS, this doesn’t have the wink wink cuteness or swarmy coolness that LOST BOYS has.
They don’t pound the latest ROCK-N-ROLL in your ears, this film doesn’t play nice… It hurts. About 9 out of my 10 guesses about what was about to happen were WRONG. But I’ve left out the most important detail.
Towards the end of the film… I was sitting in my seat… my leg twitching in that ‘gotta pee’ manner… but I was riveted by the film. I was all set to wet myself rather than leave this film. The film kept getting more and more tense… choices in direction were being made that I could not friggin believe… and suddenly at a particularly scary moment, I gripped my knee and squeezed. I felt wetness upon my knee. I go to sniff my hand, and I look at it… and it’s covered in blood. I was so scared that I gripped my knee so hard that it ripped the scab off and blood gushed through the pant leg to drench my knee… The shock that my knee was bleeding.. the fact I was one scare from pissing my pants… and the knowledge that the bathroom was very very close… I ran out of the theater, into the bathroom… wrapped my knee in paper, pissed and returned to the theater missing only two minutes…
And when I sat down, I held onto the chair in front of me… white knuckling the bar across the back of the seat and watched the last 15 minutes of the best damn straight horror film I’ve seen in years.
This film killed. The audience was ecstatic… the AICN crew all left screaming about how much they loved it… how the all practical effects work made us the happiest boys and girls on earth. How the uncompromising freaking brutal ending just knocked the air out of us. How at the end of this night all I could think of was seeing this movie again… instantly.
Look, I don’t know what LIONS GATE’s plans are for releasing this film, I have no concept… but if you live within 500 miles of Austin, I’m telling you… get here for either the Wednesday March 14th screening of GINGER SNAPS at the Austin Convention Center at 9:30pm OR get here for the 2:45pm showing on Saturday March 17th at the Alamo Drafthouse. Get in line 3 hours early… bribe someone… hitchhike… but come see this movie with me. We’ll talk and fucking celebrate how great we feel. How this is what horror is missing… How they just don’t make them like this, but they just did so Yip-fucking-aaaaa!!!
I’ll try to get you the other reviews soon, but don’t let this film get by you. And I will definitely be writing about this film some more. In fact I love this film so much I’d host screenings, introduce it at theaters around the country and sit and watch it every friggin time it played.
THIS IS HORROR with all the karo and all the intelligence and heart and realness that the best possible teen films ever get to be. An amazing film, among the best festival film experiences I have ever had and a complete and utter surprise and joy. My film festival has been made. I will always remember my bloody knee and this bloody great film and this bloody SXSW cuz right now I feel bloody great.