Chelsea (Chloe Levine) is a punk. Clad in leather and with wildly colored pink hair, Chelsea enjoys the things that punks do – loud, aggressive music in dingy little nightclubs and getting high off whatever cheap dope happens to be within reach. In the new punk/horror mashup The Ranger, there’s a price to be paid for these indulgences as the past and present collide for the characters on the screen and in the mixture of genres present in director Jenn Wexler’s film.
The chemical excess that Chelsea partakes in catches up with her once her boyfriend Garth (Granit Lahu) violently stabs a cop outside of the punk club the group was recently in. Now Chelsea and Garth are on the lam with their friends Jerk (Jeremy Pope), Amber (Amanda Grace Benitez), and Abe (Bubba Weiler) to hideout in a secluded home in the woods that once belonged to Chelsea’s family. However, a face from Chelsea’s past emerges in the form of a park ranger (Jeremy Holm), who comforted the young woman when her uncle died years ago. This isn’t just any regular park ranger, and the group of fugitive punks is going to have to contend with someone that isn’t just worried about forest fires.
The Ranger is a lean and mean slasher throwback with plenty of punk songs lining the film’s soundtrack. Obviously made on a shoestring budget, The Ranger is sometimes a little straggly and not everything it attempts works. But Jenn Wexler and co-writer Giaco Furino are able to inject enough of a unique personality into this spiky-haired slasher flick that more often than not the flaws of The Ranger are easily forgivable.
My biggest complaint about The Ranger is the fact that it takes a bit too long for the slasher mayhem to get going. However, that’s mitigated by the fact that the group of punks are fun little lowlifes, so some of the film’s lack of visceral violence is put off in favor of petty crimes. But when the bodies begin to pile up, The Ranger kicks it up with kills that escalate the tension and provide the visceral thrills that gorehounds crave. The film is liberal with its bloodshed and culminates in one of the more relentlessly violent finales I’ve seen in some time, and that by no means is a negative. This is a movie that knows that it wants to push some buttons at the end and it does so with wild abandon.
The Ranger is a B-movie with no pretensions about what kind of movie it wants to be. It doesn’t always work but I was mostly entertained with its punk rock play within the conventions of its chosen genre. The Ranger doesn’t break new ground. It’s not going to be under awards consideration. It’s simply going to deliver on its promise of a punk rock slasher flick. If that sounds appealing, you’re likely to not be disappointed.
A straggly low budget horror film, The Ranger delivers on its promise of a punk rock slasher film completely with modest flaws mixed in with a unique personality.