Opening Frightfest film The Ranger is an 80s-style slasher movie where you might just find yourself in cahoots with the killer.
After a drug raid at a goth-punk club, a group of friends escape the club and go on the run. The film focuses on Chelsea (Chloe Levine), a slightly withdrawn girl who seems to be the oddball amongst her badly behaved and rather ghastly friends.
Chelsea saves the day by suggesting that they lay low and stay at her Uncle’s old cabin in the woods. On route, they come across a Park Ranger (Jeremy S. Holm) who Chelsea recognises from her childhood through flashbacks which sees her with the Ranger when she was a young girl.
Once settled, it’s not before long that Chelsea’s friends show that they have a talent for the uncouth as they litter the forest, spray paint the trees and burn the trees.
Chelsea is horrified and soon begins to realise that they will most probably pay for their bad behaviour.
In rather prompt fashion, one by one the teenagers are murdered, and the reveal of the perpetrator happens in the first act. Director Jennifer Wexler is rather blatant in playing to the creepy serial killer Ranger stereotype and makes it no secret that this man is going to be the killer.
Audience members might enjoy the strike offs, as the teenagers are dreadful. You can almost hear yourself empathising with the Ranger as he justifies each kill under various National Park law. There is a valid reason behind every murder.
Although slightly slapstick at times, Jeremy S. Holm’s portrayal of The Ranger makes the character appear likeable. His psychopathic but calming demeanour is enough for you to believe every word he says even though he’s wildly insane and comical.
Wrexler also exposes the fickleness of carefree teenagers on drugs with an innate disregard for life. Chelsea acts as both protagonist and antagonist as her core values contradict a potential personality disorder which makes her realise that she’s not dissimilar to the Ranger after all.
The Ranger movie could also be seen an unconventional advertisement for keeping the environment clean, reinforcing the importance of respecting mother nature, something perhaps Wrexler sees the next generation missing out on.
A film for streaming VOD audiences, The Ranger shows just how a simple predictable story can be told with feisty attitude.