Movie Review: The Ranger (2018)

August 21, 2018

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

A group of young punk rockers go on the lam after their approximation of a leader Garth (Granit Lahu) stabs a cop while rescuing his gal pal Chelsea (Chloe Levine) from John Q. Law after making a break from a raid on a club they were getting high in. The group find themselves deep in the woods, contraband in tow, and hole up in Chelsa’s late uncle’s (the legendary Larry Fessenden) cabin shortly after a run in with a rather off-kilter Park Ranger (Jeremy Holm); who it is revealed has ties to Chelsea’s past…a past that she can’t fully remember. Soon shots are fired, and hunting season has officially opened on punks…and if you read the title of this review (and why would you click on this if you hadn’t) you can guess who’s doing the ol’ stalk n’ slay bit! Now the question is, how many of our hard rockin’ heroes is going to be strollin’ out of those woulds come tomorrow?
Before I get into the nitty gritty of just why The Ranger is just so gosh darn rad-ass motherfuckin’ awesome, let me just say, if you are looking for a punk rock fright flick on a par with one of my (and your’s…don’t even lie) favs, namely The Return of the Living Dead, you have surely found it here!
Co-writer (along with Giaco Furino)/Director Jenn Wexler has perfectly captured not only the punk rock aesthetic, but also the nuances of our beloved slasher genre, chucked them into some sort of horror  themed blender (it’s got skulls, and bats and shit glued on to it…it’s gnarly) and whipped that shit into a frightful frappe of straight up beastly bliss!
Adding to the strengths of the film are characters that do the impossible of being filled with snot nosed obnoxiousness, yet remaining totally endearing (like all good punks); and the performances of Levine, Lahu, as well as Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, and Amanda Grace Benitez as the rest of our motley crew. Of course it goes without saying that Holm as the eponymous Ranger is over-the-top psychotic and totalitarian all in one violence prone, batshit insane, package!
I also have to mention the overall aesthetic of the film. While there are no cellphones, characters use boom boxes, a Walkman, walkie-talkies et. al., and the clothing itself all equal 1980’s…no time period is specified (and some products visible denote a modern setting) which gives the whole affair a unique flavor all of it’s own. Also kudos to having gay characters that are just a part of the narrative without it being a “thing”…in other words, some of the gang is gay and absolutely nothing is made of it…it’s just there; like it would be in real life…mega-cool!
Look, I already said it loud and clear above, and it bears repeating: The Ranger is rad-ass motherfuckin’ awesome! You need to park your leather and spike clad ass down in front of it (and even if you aren’t punk as fuck, it’s still a rock solid slasher romp) and have one hell of a rockin’ time in the ol’ horror biz!



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