With two nominations, Director Jenn Wexler creates an atmosphere that keeps the audience on edge from start to end in The Ranger. Playing against the rules and hiding from the cops, teenagers find themselves in a secluded cabin in the mountains. Things only get worse when they enter the woods. (SYJ: 3.5/5)
Review by FF2 Intern Sophia Jin
With a loud gunshot opening the movie, the audience are thrown into the scene—a secluded forest in the mountains where "The Ranger" (Jeremy Holm) sits next to a little girl, “Chelsea” (Jeté Laurence), naming her his “little wolf”. He then brings her back to his place and feeds her a crustless sandwich before the cops show up at his door. At this stage, Chelsea has said nothing, but she is clearly upset.
Flash forward a decade, Chelsea (Chloe Levine) is a pink-haired, rebellious teenager, snorting a pink powdered drug, Echo, backstage at a punk concert along with her punk boyfriend, “Garth” (Granit Lahu), and friends. Garth reveals two packs of Echo that he had hidden in Chelsea’s bag, and the group are excited about getting high. Chelsea, although angry about Garth’s blatant disregard for her privacy and possessions, goes along and joins them.
Chelsea and her group of friends panic and run, as police arrive at the concert. When she is cornered by a police officer, her boyfriend ‘saves her life’ and stabs the cop, causing them to flee into her uncle’s cabin in the mountains. From the get-go, Chelsea did not want her friends to go to this place where she holds so many treasured memories, both good and bad. Once they arrive at the cabin, all the teenagers except Chelsea throw a party to celebrate their new found freedom. Much to their surprise and shock, that mountain would be their ultimate downfall. The first to suffer is blue-haired “Amber” (Amanda Grace Benitez), who gets shot, but this is only the beginning.
What starts off as an uncomfortably loud story about some druggie kids, ends up as something entirely different. Divulging more and more of Chelsea’s past, feeding delusions and seeing the severing of body parts on screen, Wexler sure puts a lot of effort into the film. Admittedly, there were various sections that were over-acted, but equally, there were also places where the teenagers acted according to their role. Holm’s acting was particularly unnerving—his facial expressions become creepier throughout the movie. His character obsesses over nature and eliminates whatever he deems unnatural—in this case, the punk kids.
The prosthetic makeup effects, done by Brian Spears, were extremely impactful. The effects were nauseating, if not scarring, but that shows the splendour of the work and the attention to detail. The sound of gunshots are heard intermittently throughout and help keep the audience focussed on the movie. This movie is one of the only movies I've seen to use punk as its soundtrack. Overall, the music and sound effects created the horrifying atmosphere well.
Rebekah Brown’s production design kept bringing the color pink. Pink is stereotypically seen as a feminine color and is associated with romance and joyfulness. The Ranger uses pink to mean something completely different—in this film, the color pink represents darkness and rebellion. Generally, The Ranger was well done and well played. However, this movie is for a select audience; the vast majority of the audience may not enjoy it due to its unusual loudness, resembling more of a live punk concert than a film.
© Sophia Jin (8/17/2018) FF2 Media
Top Photo: "The Ranger" poster
Middle Photo: Bloody "Chelsea" (Chloe Levine)
Bottom Photo: "Jerk" (Jeremy Pope) and "Abe" (Bubba Weiler)
Photo Credit: Uncork'd Entertainment
Does "The Ranger" pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?
Yes, when the two girls, "Amber" (Amanda Grace Benitez) and Chelsea, talk about being left behind to be caught by the cops.