Review: THE RANGER (2018)

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Punk rock and horror have some nice history together. Of course, there’s RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and GREEN ROOM. There’s also CLASS OF 1984 and CLASS OF NUKE EM HIGH for that matter. Having heard great things about producer Jenn Wexler’s (PSYCHOPATHS, DARLING) first feature as a director since it dropped at SXSW I was happy to get a chance to see THE RANGER. How could I refuse a retro, punk rock slasher? But could it live up to all its hype?

Chelsea (Chloe Levine THE TRANSFIGURATION) her boyfriend Garth (Granit Lahu) and the rest of their crew are in deep shit. The cops raided their coke operation and the resultant scuffle left a cop dead. So they decide to lie low in the cabin she used to spend summers at with her now deceased Uncle Pete (Larry Fessenden DEPRAVED, THE MIND’S EYE).

They haven’t even made it to the cabin when they antagonize The Ranger (Jeremy Holm HOUSE OF CARDS), a man with a connection to Chelsea’s past. Things can only go downhill from there. And they do, swiftly and violently.

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THE RANGER never tries to hide the identity of its killer. The real mystery is what the actual connection between him and Chelsea is. He just does his thing, coming off like a cross between DREDD and MANIAC COP as he cites park regulations before dispatching his victims. Victims who are shitty and obnoxious to the point it’s hard not to cheer him on.

I get the fact that as punks they’re supposed to be rough-edged and rude to society in general. But when Chelsea asks them not to smoke in the cabin, out of respect to her uncle’s memory, and they light up anyway their lack of regard for their own friend says it all.

The kills themselves aren’t bad. The practical effects get the job done without being anything special, which pretty much sums up THE RANGER as a whole. It’s an enjoyable movie and it’s certainly better than a lot of indie slashers. But it doesn’t live up to all the hype either. Approach with realistic expectations and you’ll have a good time.

THE RANGER hits New York’s IFC Center August 17th and L.A.’s Laemmle Music Hall September 7th. You can check for a screening near you on the film’s website.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy