East Coast Premiere
2018 • USA • 80 min.
Director: Jenn Wexler
Screenwriter: Jenn Wexler & Giaco Furino
Cast: Chloe Levine, Jeremy Holm, Granit Lahu, Larry Fessenden, Amanda Grace Benitez
March 24, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
The epitaph for punk’s alleged death has been declared, yet its legacy echoes through new generations of misfits channeling angst into art. Jenn Wexler’s rambunctious debut harnesses that essence, a portrayal of desperate outsiders who must escape when their safe space is torn asunder. In this case, a pack of punks on the lam find themselves deep in the woods where an unforgiving authority figure lurks.
After a police raid at a punk club leaves an officer dead, Chelsea and her friends flee the city for her family cabin secluded in a national park. Hazy flashbacks reveal Chelsea’s history mired in tragedy, the accidental death of her outdoorsman Uncle Pete (Larry Fessenden), and the zealous forest ranger (Jeremy Holm) who took her under his wing. The past returns in the familiar form of a ruthless by-the-book public servant who resorts to diabolical measures to protect the forest.
The Ranger is a fresh take on survivalist horror, cleverly subverting tropes with peculiar humor and a rowdy flair. It’s also an offbeat examination of self-identity, where tightly-wound Chelsea, portrayed by electrifying up-and-comer Chloe Levine (The Transfiguration), evaluates the capricious subculture into which she’s never quite molded, and must unleash pent up urges to ensure survival. The film’s statement is critical of rule-setters and rule-breakers alike within a framework exploring how the ferocity of punk rock is not dissimilar to the savagery of nature when swapping urban arenas for the great outdoors. Wexler’s debut is a raging, hallucinatory romp packing a fistful of splatter effects, set to the blistering sounds of The Avengers, The Grim, and Rotten UK, raucously shouting Oi! Oi! Oi! from the mountain’s top.
– Chris Hallock