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The Ranger

Take Nothing But Pictures, Leave Nothing But Footprints, Kill Nothing But Time: A Deeper Look At Black Fawn’s “The Ranger” Now on Shudder.

Director Jenn Wexler brings us a fresh and fun, punk rock slasher film with her impressive directorial debut, The Ranger.

The film follows a group of unruly young punks on the run from the law. They unexpectedly cross paths with an ultra strict park ranger, hell bent on upholding the rules and regulations of his precious park at all costs. Disrespecting the laws of nature won’t be a choice if they hope to make it out of this forest alive.

We’re first introduced to a group of lawless, drug-fueled friends. They spend their nights in dark and grungy clubs, while they plan how they’ll get into business selling a new drug referred to as ‘Echo’ that provides users with a hallucinogenic experience. With no family of her own, Chelsea finds what she thinks will be a home with this group of disrespectful lowlifes. The group is led by the puerile Garth, Chelsea’s boyfriend.

However, after their favorite hangout gets busted and Garth ends up stabbing a police office, the group is forced to flee. But they don’t make it out before the office has a chance to radio in a description of both Garth and Chelsea.

Speeding carelessly down the road, they try to come up with a plan. Garth brings up that Chelsea owns a place in the woods — the perfect hideaway until things blow over. But Chelsea is reluctant to return to the place where her uncle was killed years ago. Still, with no other viable options, she agrees to take the group there.

Stopping at a gas station along the way, the gang keeps up their unruly behavior. They raid whatever snacks they can while the sleeping cashier is dead to the world. Enter the Park Ranger. He wakes the cashier from his slumber, while only Chelsea remains in the store. He seems overly eager to be of assistance once she explains that she owns the property in the mountains. Though he clearly remembers her, she can’t recall any connection between herself and the Ranger.

As the group ventures through the woods with the promise of Chelsea’s abandoned uncle’s cabin ahead of them, they take no care for any of their surroundings. They vandalize trees with spray paint and set fires any where they see fit. That’s rock and roll for you. They fully embrace the devil-may-care attitude, assuming they are completely alone in the woods. But they couldn’t be more wrong!

Spliced with flashbacks of Chelsea’s childhood memories at the cabin, the film allows the viewer to slowly piece together the full picture as to how Chelsea lost her uncle all those years ago. We also begin to learn more about the man who watched over her following the tragic loss.

In addition to a fun bit of mystery and plenty of carnage, the film dares us to confront the nature of our true selves — natural predators, like wolves who symbolize both power as well as danger and destruction. Once ruling the forest before being slaughtered by settlers, these creatures have begun to take back their land — slaughtering anyone who threatens it. Fully embracing his true nature, The Ranger is also dead set on upholding the natural splendor of his park, no matter what it takes.

“Sorry, kids. Gotta clean up the forest.”

Originally released on March 12, 2018, The Ranger received numerous award nominations — from the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards to the SXSW Film festival of 2018. It won for best soundtrack at the Fantaspoa International Film Festival of 2018, held in Brazil. The film was also novelized by Ed Kurtz.

The Ranger is a smart, blood bath of a thriller offering inventive deaths and a great punk rock soundtrack. Expect lots of wicked fun with this one.

4/5

The Ranger is currently available on Shudder as of May 9, 2019.

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