“You’re a wolf Chelsea, and don’t you ever forget that.”
The Ranger is a neon, 80’s/90’s, cat and mouse, forest explosion. In the best way possible. Directed by Jen Wexler, The Ranger follows a pretty simple premise; a group of punks do a lot of drugs, get chased by the cops, stab a cop, and then go on the run. Chelsea, our lead, has an old cabin in the forest that they can hide out in. Unfortunately for them, a figure from Chelsea’s past protects that forest and the punks are in way more trouble than they realize.
Here’s what I love: the look and colors. It’s this beautiful combination of neon but also faded colors mixed perfectly together. The duller colors give me major The Crow vibes only more punk than goth. There’s a lot of great camerawork here too - lots of quick close ups and wide shots, giving me Danny Boyle but if Danny Boyle was on downers. Chelsea with her bright pink hair stands out among the dark greens and browns of the wood, constantly making her the focus and target. When the final scene hits and the blood splatters like crazy, it looks beautiful in the bright white of the background. It’s a really pretty movie to watch.
But is it good? Hell fucking yeah. The performances of most of the punks are nothing to write home about, but the Ranger and Chelsea...they’re our main focus and they handle it with style. Jeremy Holm plays the Ranger and does so with this incredible mix of fear and humor. Throughout the start of the film, the Ranger is this unnerving presence that keeps popping up. And you instantly know there’s something not right with him. When the night takes a turn and he begins taking out the punks one by one, he turns into this dry and funny but ruthless human being. In particular a scene where he shoots Amber in the head because as he puts it, she’s on her last legs anyway. That animal brutality shines through but the lightness of his words makes it almost comedic. When he finds Jerk trapped in an animal trap, he counts down until Jerk manages to yank his leg free, leaving his bloody stump of a foot behind which the Ranger then picks up and wanders off with. There’s also this great scene where he throws two of the punk’s bodies in the back of his truck, “sorry kids, gotta keep the forest clean.”
The Ranger character is like all those 80’s and 90’s cheesey slasher villains combined and put into a forest and it’s amazing. But when we approach the end of the flick and realize how demented and terrifying this character really is, that’s when Holm really shines. It was just an absolutely stand out performance.
Chloë Levine who plays Chelsea is another stand out for me. She begins the film as this meek individual who just lets her rowdy friends push her around and make fun of her. Her boyfriend, Garth, is an absolute dick who just talks over her and barely pays her any mind. When she encounters the Ranger in the woods, she also backs down immediately. Clearly we know there’s history there just by how her body language changes. But when Amber gets shot the first time, Chelsea is the one that remains calm. She lets her natural instincts kick in and takes lead over her friends. You can start to see that fire in her eyes.
This of course all leads to the final showdown between the Ranger and Chelsea which could’ve failed so spectacularly if either of them weren’t committed 110%. Luckily they were. Chelsea’s final attack on the Ranger is incredible, she’s basically been through the most hardcore exposure therapy anyone could have and she’s come to realize that she is like the Ranger. She too is a wolf. But she’s not a wolf that’s going to be put down and she unleashes her fury on him in such an incredible moment. Blood flying everywhere, her literally howling up at the sky, and then the final shot bringing her full circle.
The twists and turns the film take are fun and I found quite unpredictable. The final reveal of what really happened to Chelsea when she was a kid was shocking to me. And the reveal of what the Ranger really does up in those woods had me clutching my pearls.
Honestly, The Ranger is a tight little story with a lot of heart and a lot of kick that will keep you entertained throughout the ride. It’s got a kickass soundtrack, beautiful colors, a great script and some stand out performances.
I highly recommend it!
The Ranger will be streaming on Shudder on May 9th, it was directed by Jenn Wexler, and co-written by Wexler and Giaco Furino. It stars Chloë Levine, Jeremy Holm, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez, Larry Fessenden and JetéLaurence.
AMC Networks’ SHUDDER is a premium streaming video service, super-serving fans of all degrees with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. SHUDDER’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, and Germany on most streaming devices for 4.99/month or 49.99/year. To experience SHUDDER commitment-free for 7 days, visit HERE.
Want more great horror movie recommendations? Just search below: