'the worst loup-garous that one can meet': Reading the werewolf in the Canadian 'wilderness'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ginger Snaps (2000) has been recognised as an exemplary example of feminist horror, yet the sequels have received little attention. This article analyses the final film in the trilogy, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004), by looking at the use of folklore within the story. On first appearance, Ginger Snaps Back reacts to the ending of the first film, in which Brigitte kills her lupine sister Ginger, consolidating feminist readings whilst drawing on earlier Gothic traditions. Set in the nineteenth century, the film draws on Canadian Gothic tropes with the two sisters trapped in an isolated fort, surrounded by frozen forest and beset by werewolves. The narrative explains the origins of the lycanthropy, which affects the sisters in their future incarnations, by appropriating indigenous beliefs and folklore. In doing so, it echoes another Canadian werewolf narrative, Henry Beaugrand’s ‘The Werwolves' (1898). Similarly, Beaugrand’s story opens with a group of hunters, woodsmen and militia spending the Christmas period in Fort Richelieu, Quebec. Surrounded by forests, the fort acts a point of civilisation for these frontiersmen. This location evokes North American fears, and the representation of the wooded wilderness within American Gothic literature as full of wild beasts and wild men that surrounded European-American settlements. Beaugrand collapse the ‘wild beasts’ and ‘wild men’ into one hybrid monster: his werewolves are indigenous people. However, he fails to properly depict wolf-into-man transformations within native belief systems. Rather, he absorbs them into French-Canadian lycanthropic folklore as an anti-Christian entity, disavowing the subjectivity of his non-white werewolves. By comparing the depiction of werewolves in Ginger Snaps Back and Beaugrand’s story, this article uncovers the implications of ignoring native folklore, as well as the dangers of misappropriating them. On first appearance the filmic representation of werewolves and indigenous people appears to undermine Beaugrand’s colonist viewpoint. However, the overlap of folklore and fauxlore naturalises the ownership of the land by European colonisers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-80
JournalGothic Studies
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • werewolf
  • Canadian Gothic
  • folklore
  • feminism
  • cultural identity
  • Gothic literature

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