The Ranger (2018)

Teen punks, on the run from the cops and hiding out in the woods, face off against the local authority– an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind. I’ve been wanting to see this movie for awhile — how can you not want to see a film with this tagline? “Each year, millions visit our national parks. Not everyone gets to leave.”

After the police raid their favorite club — and one of them stabs a cop — a gang of punks decide to hide out at Chelsea’s (Chloe Levine, The Defenders) dead uncle’s cabin. There’s an initial confrontation The Ranger (Jeremy Holm, Mr. RobotHouse of Cards) who is kind to our heroine (a flashback shows him cutting off the crusts of a sandwich for her and asking to be remembered as the cops arrive), yet in the face of everyone else.

This is Jenn Wexler’s debut feature and it totally has the punk rock feel of Return of the Living Dead, which is a huge compliment. Plus, in this interview, music supervisor Middagh Goodwin talked about just how important it was to have a great soundtrack that would lead to viewers discovering some great punk bands.

That same park ranger who helped Chelsea years ago has now gone completely off the rails and is ready to stop these punks from vandalizing his park, much less blasting loud music and tossing their beer cans everywhere. It’s not like he didn’t warn them from the beginning.

Holm is just great in this, a true joy to watch. It’s interesting to see a slasher villain who isn’t tormented or disfigured or conflicted about what he does. He tells one of his victims that he’s sorry that things had to be this way, but he has a job to do keeping these woods clean — and then he heartily chuckles.

A lot of the story has to do with what exactly happened between Chelsea, her uncle and The Ranger. Did she shoot him? Was he killed by wolves? Can she even trust herself with all the junk in her system and the way her memories have been hidden?

I really dug this one. It’s a film that throws it back to the slasher 80’s but certainly could have fit within it. It’s a bit smarter than your average slasher was, but has no shortage of gore along the way.

You can grab The Ranger at Redbox now, pre-order the DVD or blu ray at the official site or just wait until it shows up on Shudder later this year.

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