I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 14 years.
If you like your horror movies with an 80s vibe (let’s face it, what horror movie from the past 5 years doesn’t have an 80s vibe), and you like keeping the forest clean so families from the present and future generations can enjoy, then The Ranger just may be the movie for you. It’s got gore, gristle, and a timely environmentalist message so you can stay green even while you’re seeing red. Sure, you’ll forget about what you’ve seen as soon as the credits roll, but there are worse ways you can spend 80 minutes.
The Ranger opens with a little girl named Chelsea (Pet Sematary’s Jete Laurence) in a kitchen in what looks like a remote cabin. She seems a little worse for wear. A man dressed up as a Park Ranger assures her that everything is going to be okay, makes her a sandwich and even cuts off the crusts for her. Touching.
We now flash forward to the present day (or the 80s, I’m not sure since no one in this movie ever looks at their phone). Chelsea (Chloe Levine) is now all grown up and hanging out with a wannabe as-yet-unnamed punk band. Let’s meet them before they’re all dead.
- Chelsea (Chloe Levine): you’ve met her already, but just know she’s got a Deep Dark Secret that she’s been hiding.
- Garth (Granit Lahu): He’s Chelsea’s boyfriend and a one-dimensional A-hole. He’s onscreen for less than a minute before you wish he would die.
- Abe (Bubba Weller): All he wants is to find an original name for the band.
- Jerk (Jeremy Pope): He’s Abe’s boyfriend. He’s also black, so sorry you’re probably going to die first. RIP Jerk.
- Amber (Amanda Benitez): She’s just tagging along.
Not only do Garth and friends aspire to be a great punk band, they also want to sell cocaine and heroin, which seems like a really innovative idea. But while they’re at a club hashing out their plan, it’s raided by the cops.
Because Garth is such a horrible person whose sole purpose is to get the audience to hate him, he somehow ends up stabbing a cop. Now Chelsea and friends are on the run in what looks like the van from Scooby-Doo. A GoFundMe has just been set up for Garth to die.
While they’re on the lam, it’s fortunate that Chelsea’s dead uncle had a cabin in the woods so they can hide out while the heat dies down. Because cops will eventually forget that one of their own has been stabbed.
They drive to the creepy semi-abandoned cabin with no money and stolen snacks from a convenience store. But everything will be okay because they’re going to be big on the punk scene as well as totally awesome coke and heroin dealers. This is a great and feasible idea and everyone should be on board with it.
But they’ve been watched. By someone in a big hat. Someone who recognizes Chelsea. Someone who doesn’t like it when you desecrate the national parks.
It’s the Ranger (Jeremy Holm). I mean, the movie’s called The Ranger so at some point you’d have to expect a Ranger-type person to be involved.
What Works With The Ranger
- The Kills- Once the killing starts, it doesn’t really let up and that’s why we all paid our ticket. Kudos to writer/director Jenn Wexler (co-written by Giaco Furino) for keeping the kills, if not necessarily fresh, but blood loads of fun.
- The Ranger- a delightfully monotone performance by Jeremy Pope as the titular Ranger keeps the audience off-kilter with jilted line readings and a goofy smile that makes him look like Zack Morris’ more demented brother.
- Requisite Larry Fessenden cameo- If you make a low-budget horror movie and Larry Fessenden isn’t in it, are you really indie?
What Doesn't Work With The Ranger
- For 40 minutes the audience is forced to spend time with unlikable characters that you wish would just die already. Not sure it’s a good idea if you’re rooting for the killer so early in the movie. This doesn't affect the pacing much, but the viewers should be having a better experience.
- Not every movie has to have an 80s vibe as the 80s are so 2016. I guess it could be worse (the 90s).
The Ranger is a fun but predictable slasher that won’t put much of a dent in your day. Come for the kills, stay for more kills. Keep your trash in the bins.
Watch The Ranger Here!
Noel Penaflor (author) from California on July 24, 2019:
Thank you. By far, the best horror movie with the word Ranger in it. I know, so many to choose from.
Jennifer Jorgenson on May 16, 2019:
Great review. I heard they showed this at sxsw and was curious about it. Thanks for sharing!