Female Filmmaker Friday: The Ranger (2018)

A young woman runs to her family’s mountain cabin with her friends after an encounter with the police. There her past and a ranger wait for them, to make them regret coming to this peaceful place.

Directed by Jenn Wexler who co-wrote with Giaco Furino, The Ranger is a sort of woodsy slasher film with nature as an element to content with as well as the titular man who’s chasing the young punks who found refuge on his mountain after dealing with a bad idea and an altercation with police in the city. The story uses some of the usual slasher tropes and runs with them while it takes others and turns them on their heads just a little bit. Of course, it’s clear from the start who the final person is, but she makes for a great final girl and just doesn’t give up and doesn’t give in even as the audience finds out more and more about her and why she may be reluctant to deal with the past and the ranger himself. The characters brought the screen here are human and mostly realistic. They feel like people one might know or might have met at some point in life.

Playing this cast of character are Chloe Levine as lead Chelsea, Granit Lahu as Garth, Jeremy Pope as Jerk, Bubba Weiler as Abe, Amanda Grace Benitez as Amber, and Jeremy Holm as The Ranger, who does not get a name other than his title as a good slasher does. Levine is the shining performance here, giving a subtle performance that has light nuances and keeps some secrets up her sleeve until it’s time to fully unleash and give her all. Her work here is fascinating to watch and most definitely makes the film what it is. Jeremy Holm makes for a worthy opponent and has just the right vibes making it clear that something is off with him from the get-go but what is not clear until later in the film. His capacity to recite rules and regulations alone is enough to be chilling, but the way he looks at the people he encounters, his coldness, his calculated ways, make him a very human yet very impressive killer. Categorizing him as a slasher doesn’t seem quite right, but it’s the closest description that can be used for him. The rest of the main cast, Lahu, Pope, Weiler, and Benitez, are really good and give a good fight whether they make it out at the end or not.

Something that is very strong with The Ranger is the art direction by Travis Devine and all the attention to details she as well as the production design by Rebekah Brown, the costume design by Samantha Hawkins, the makeup, the hair, the special effects, it all comes together in a way that builds the perfect punk slasher for this generation. The film has the right feel because the right people were working on it, the right people were hired for it and trusted to do what they do best.

The Ranger is a fun, bloody romp in the woods that will please slasher and punk fans alike. It’s a simple film, but highly enjoyable. The story has a few twists, but not too many to fall into disbelief and the lead is one badass girl with a few things left to reveal. The ending is great and will make genre fans happy that this film was made by a few of their own.

The Ranger is currently playing on the festival circuit across the world with MotelX next and will have a theatrical run starting on September 7th, 2018 at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles. Get your tickets here.