Fantasia 2018: The Ranger [Review]

The RangerTake nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time. Thus are the general rules of the forest-covered mountain. However, if you fall upon the park ranger, he’ll take away your life, leave you for dead, and kill everything but time. Come take a stroll within the woodlands of “The Ranger” which made its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

Chelsea (Chloe Levine) hangs out with the wrong crowd. After her boyfriend murders a police officer following a drug-infested punk-rock show, she and her friends, along with a new girl added to their group, flee to take refuge in an old shack previously owned by her uncle, deep in the woods of a mountain. Once they stumble upon the park ranger, he smells that they’ll be up to no good with the way they dress and the manner they act. Only thing is: he’ll be the one up to no good once he begins to dismantle them for breaking forest rules, one by one.

Who doesn’t love a good slasher film with more-than-decent practical effects and a charismatic villain? “The Ranger” fulfills all of the above; without exceeding expectations, nor creating disappointments. I loved Jeremy Holm (“House of Cards” and “Mr. Robot”) who portrayed the Ranger. His aura, the way he spoke with confidence, bordering arrogance, and his general stance reminded me of an always-hilarious Rob Riggle. When you can present to me an actor who can pull off a charismatic villain without looking like he’s trying too hard, you’ve got me hooked. Although Chloe Levine plays a reluctant Chelsea within this entire punk-rock lifestyle, the rest of her gang, portrayed by Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler and Amanda Grace Benitez, are on-point with their performances as wreckless, careless and annoying young adults. The casting was well planned and the results onscreen are enjoyable.

As mentioned above, the practical effects during some gory scenes were often entertaining. What added to the amusement of each kill was that the Ranger would recite forest laws, in very cool and collected fashion, as to why they were being punished. He would even add the exact law codes seemingly as referral if the victim would like to go over the rulebook and confirm.

Co-writer and director Jenn Wexler was in her feature film directorial debut and she sure starts off on the right foot and in the correct path. I always found that horror and comedy were the two movie genres that had the best chemistry if woven together appropriately, and although Wexler’s movie isn’t an all-out comedy, it definitely contains some delicious dark humor. In addition to this, the plot is quite interesting. Chelsea’s childhood storyline regarding her uncle is quite engaging and ties in very well with the involvement of the Ranger’s presence within her life.

All in all, “The Ranger” is a pleasant slasher that should be viewed by all. It delivers exactly what we like to see: punk kids finally getting what they deserve; nothing more, nothing less. Find a way to view it whenever it is made possible, as it is rewarded with 3.5 stars out of 5.

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