What can I say besides that The Ranger is my favorite “final girl” horror movie of 2018! The Ranger is an in-your-face punk-sploitation slasher that takes the viewer through a wild ride into indie-horror and doesn’t let go. Directed by Jenn Wexler (Darling, Psychopaths) The Ranger stars a group of teen-punks doing punk things at a punk show; having a grand time doing average teenager stuff like cocaine, heroin, stabbing cops, etc. Our main character is Chelsea, played by Chloe Levine, who does such an amazing job. At a punk show, Chelsea is with her childish, drug dealing boyfriend (Granit Lahu) and her friends (Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez) who want to have a rebellious time. When the cops do a bust, Chelsea and her friends make a run for it until an accident causes them to be wanted by the state police. Chelsea tells her runaway friends about a cabin her Uncle (Larry Fessenden) used to own and hopes that they may hide there until the heat dies down. While traveling to the cabin Chloe runs into an “old friend”, a park ranger whom she had a mysterious history with when she was a child. The Ranger, played by Jeremy Holm (Mr.Robot, House of Cards) begins to stalk Chelsea and her poser friends, taking them down one by one following a pretty epic final girl battle sequence.
The best thing about The Ranger was that Wexler was not afraid to take risks when it comes to telling a story with issues such as child pedophilia, homosexuality, bad influences, drugs, and coming of age. Chelsea is obviously the more mature one of her group of poser misfits. Chelsea’s friends just want to desecrate the national park and Chelsea’s uncle’s home because they believe in anarchy and that the world is against them; I believe we all have had those type of “friends” in our early youth. I think what worked for me was how close I felt with Chelsea’s intuition when it came down to questions such as “Why are we hiding from the law? Why am I with these friends? Am I alone”. It is a very strong performance done by Chloe Levine which had me rooting for her since the open 10 minutes,
The Ranger, in all of it’s punk rock, cyber synth glory makes sure the viewer is invested with the story leading to the epic show down in the last 20 minutes. Without spoiling too much with what happens in The Ranger, I want everyone who loves movies such as Return Of The Living Dead and Green Room to make space in the middle for The Ranger because that’s where The Ranger belongs.
The Ranger is currently playing at the IFC Theater in New York City until August 23rd 2018