THE RANGER is set in fictional Blackwood Point National Park though it doesn’t start there. We start instead with a ranger giving a little girl a pep talk about a wolf pack and Zac Galifianakis is nowhere around. He asks her earnestly if ‘little cub’ understands. There’s commotion outside as he continues. “We did what we could. No one will ever know. You’re a wolf Chelsea, don’t you ever forget that-And don’t you ever forget me.” Then knocks at the door and voices with the ranger just sitting back a smug grin on his face. It seems to lead to something later in the film and you’d be correct.
After that we land right smack dab in a debaucherous club rocking some punk rock. The music throughout THE RANGER is a highlight. With punk carrying the harder scenes and golden oldies playing out another vantage point, but I’ll get to that later. We meet our main players pretty quickly in the dingy neon lit smoke filled anarchy dance room.
Garth (Granit Lahu), Abe (Bubba Weiler), Amber (Amanda Grace Benitex), Jerk (Jeremy Pope), and our star Chelsea (Chloe Levine) who for some reason reminds me of a young Candace Cameron before she got, well old. Typical shots of mow-hawked teens snorting drugs, having sex in bathroom stalls, dancing, errr hopping to punk, and dazed heads leaning on brick walls.
Our main perps get into some trouble with the local law enforcement cutting into their enjoyment time. They rob a store with the grandiose plan of heading to Chelsea’s old cabin in the woods. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before?
The set-up is simple, they get to the deserted cabin, meet a deranged forest ranger, take ample amounts of untested drugs, fight wolves, bicker, have sex, and most of all enjoy their loud music blaring off the old portable stereo. OK, maybe not so simple but nothing revolutionary here either. Regardless they should probably be more thoughtful out in nature and all. Thankfully they have a handy park ranger (Jeremy Holm) who shows up to learn them the error of their ways.
After watching THE RANGER I had Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl” stuck in my head for hours. When my parents listened to it back in the day, it was like getting water boarded. Throw it in a horror movie and it’s like Mozart to my ears as it’s sort of the ranger in THE RANGER’s theme song. It’s ok, you can call out my hypocrisy.
Jeremy does a stand up job as the ranger here. He’s sinister in a non-revelatory way early and over the course of the film starts to showcase his educational side with some of the driest humor you will ever witness.
This is Jenn Wexler’s first feature film and she handles it adeptly. She knows she’s not breaking any new ground here and instead revels in what a tale like this is made for. Some fun gore, a few tense moments, and a knife named guilty. Jenn also co-wrote THE RANGER with Giaco Furino in what amounts to a fun story trying to add a layer of depth, I’m not sure quite hit the mark.
Hood River Entertainment and Glass Eye Pix will be showing THE RANGER for the 2nd time after opening in NYC August 17th. The 2nd showing will be at London’s FrightFest on the 23rd, and again in NYC on September 7th. Check it out if you like fun horror films. If you need gore, it’s definitely worth your time, though kept in check for the first half of this 1h 17min breezer. The actors handle their characters competently, the story is well not much of one, and who cares because it’s got a few really well done gore scenes and the bad guy is a lot of fun.
I had a lot of fun with THE RANGER and think fans of cat and mouse horror, dipped in acceptable gore, with the obligatory cabin the woods, will enjoy the time spent on this one. I know I did.
6 out of 10 rangers confiscate their personal drug habit