M.L. Miller here! Because you and I love the horror so much, I’ve decided to post a “Worth Noting” pick along with each of my Horror Countdown choices each day through October. The same rules apply. The film must have been released before September 30th, 2019 to the masses (no festival picks). This means that is available to view in theaters, On Demand, DVD/BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews how you can watch and enjoy these films.
How did I compile this list? Horror is such a broad and varied genre that sometimes, while these choices may not represent the best—something about the film is worth taking notice. Some of these films have similar themes to their counterparts in the main countdown. Some just missed the countdown by an inch or two. Others were just squozed in because there’s nothing like them out there. Others because they have been made available for the first time. One way or another, it’s more horror to enjoy!
I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Worth Noting – THE RANGER!
Jenn Wexler’s punk rock debut is a fantastic little horror film. I loved a lot of parts of this film a whole lot. This is a fun slasher set in a familiar locale, but the cast and atmosphere makes it feel brand new. Released on November 20, 2019, here’s my review of THE RANGER! Available on DVD/BluRay, SHUDDER, On Demand, & digital download from Glass Eye Pix!
THE RANGER (2018)
Directed by Jenn Wexler
Written by Giaco Furino, Jenn Wexler
Starring Chloe Levine, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez, Jeté Laurence, Larry Fessenden, Nicholas Tucci, Jeremy Holm as the Ranger!
There’s a whole lot to love about Jenn Wexler’s THE RANGER. It’s got a genuine punk rock feel, not a Hollywood sanitized version of the lifestyle. It’s got some truly gnarly kills along with some great moments of tension and terror. And it’s got a young, talented cast that is bound to go places. It’s not the perfect slasher, but it does a whole hell of a lot correctly.
THE TRANSFIGURATION’s Chloe Levine (and if you haven’t seen that film, you’re truly missing out) stars as Chelsea, a sensible member of a group of punk idiots who commit a crime in the city and decide to flee to the forest until the heat goes down. Chelsea happens to have been willed a cabin in the woods where she spent many a summer with her Uncle Pete (Larry Fessenden, who contractually must appear in all horror films from rising horror filmmakers) learning how to survive in the wilderness. A childhood trauma has lead Chelsea down a troubled path, but she does seem to have a good head on her shoulders. And she is going to have to work hard to keep it as an overzealous park ranger (played by the Patrick Winterburn-esque Jeremy Holm) decides that those who enter his woods and break his strict rules must pay with their lives. Having just dropped acid, Chelsea and friends must maneuver through the woods and avoid the psychotic ranger to save their lives.
First the good. This film has a vibrant, no shits given attitude that I feel goes hand in hand with anyone who might love horror. It’s got a great punk soundtrack, and much like Jeremy Saulnier’s GREEN ROOM, offers up an authentic look at the punk rock lifestyle and attitude. While we are used to seeing the typical cross-section of stereotypes in these slasher in the woods scenarios, it’s refreshing to see this corner of adolescence represented in such a genuine way. Leading the charge is the amazing Chloe Levine who, as I’ve said before, looks and acts like a young Charlize Theron. Her vibrancy leaps from the screen and there is no doubt, this is an actress that will soar. She proves more than tough enough to carry the lead in this film, which seems to have put her through the emotional and physical wringer.
I also loved the attention to gore and carnage this film delivers, and Wexler does a great job of capturing the action that happens a plenty. Again, there’s thought into these kills and action one doesn’t often find in modern slashers.
My only real criticism of THE RANGER is that Holm is not very scary as the titular character. The main problem is that he talks and something about his delivery, along with a somewhat annoying tendency to mention the rule broken and its number categorizing it makes it feel more like parody than a straight up slasher. I preferred the earlier scenes that focused on building tension, where the killer is less vocal and reliant more on his physicality. It makes for a much more intimidating villain. Here, the Ranger himself quips punily, like an unscarred Freddy Krueger, making him less of a threat (especially with the aforementioned resemblance to Patrick Winterburn).
That said, THE RANGER is a rock-solid debut for writer/director Jenn Wexler. She is an exciting new voice for the genre and hopefully, she has much more scares in store for us. The attitude, the action, and acting make THE RANGER one to look out for.
WORTH NOTING SO FAR…
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
Interested in advertising on MLMILLERWRITES? Feel free to contact me here and we can talk turkey!
Don’t forget to share and like! Happy Halloween!