The Ranger

It’s finally August, which means the countdown to Frightfest 2018 is ON. In the weeks leading up to the festival, our intrepid reporter Joey Keogh will be taking a look at some of the most anticipated movies on this year’s jam-packed schedule. The first installment targets The Ranger.

What better way to kick off close to a week’s worth of horror movies than with a blood-splattered, punk rock slasher movie? Jenn Wexler’s directorial debut had me at “hello,” or rather at “oi oi oi!” Metal tends to be the go-to genre when it comes to sound-tracking horror output (see: Deathgasm and TV’s Todd and the Book of Pure Evil) but punk should definitely get more of a look in. It’s fast, it’s loud, it’s fun. Now, finally, it will thanks to someone who really knows her stuff.

The fact that this is the first female-directed movie to ever open Frightfest is just icing on the cake. Or feedback on the monitor (I’ll stop with the punk metaphors now). That it stars Chloe Levine, of last year’s moody vampire indie The Transfiguration, in the leading role as a leather jacket-clad, pink hair-sporting little brat, makes it even sweeter. Also, THIS description “an explosive, post-modern slasher, with a kick-ass punk soundtrack.” It’s like a big neon YES sign (on that note, check out the gorgeous poster below).

The Ranger poster

First-timer Wexler was stoked about her inclusion, noting that the festival takes place in London, where punk has its roots. ’80s throwbacks are all the rage right now — in fact, another one, Summer of ’84, directly follows The Ranger in the lineup — but this one takes an entirely different spin by featuring alternative kids, in a setting that never gets old (the woods, duh). It’s also, by all accounts, considerably rougher than Stranger Things, et al.

The full synopsis for the flick, via Frightfest, is as follows:

It’s the 1980s and a group of punks get busted selling drugs. Because a police officer gets fatally wounded in the showdown, Chelsea (Levine) offers up her uncle’s cabin in a nearby national park as a hideout. There they cross paths with an officious ranger who has a weird connection to Chelsea’s past and will stop at nothing to enforce every single safety regulation even if it means resorting to the deadliest of means. Emulating slasher classics with sly élan and featuring a kick-ass punk soundtrack, Jenn Wexler’s debut feature is a post-modern splatter flick carrying the FrightFest seal of approval

Reviews are sparse thus far, but the word is good, with Film Pulse’s Blake Crane noting “In this genre, Wexler is definitely a filmmaker to watch,” Birth.Movies.Death’s Marisa Mirabel pointing to “that feminine backbone of badass passion [which] shines through in Chelsea’s character,” and Screen Anarchy’s J. Hurtado raving that this is a “fun throwback with a killer soundtrack and enough solid kills in its 77 minutes […] to sate spiky haired gorehounds everywhere.” Regardless, a female-directed, female-fronted, punk rock slasher? Count me the fuck in. Tattoo that shit on my face. I’m here for it.

Check out the trailer for The Ranger below, and sound off in the comments about whether you think this is a real threat to Scream‘s throne or just another wannabe in achingly cool clothing. Stay tuned to the site for all the must-know Frightfest 2018 reviews and interviews from the festival.

The Ranger opens Frightfest 2018 at 6/6.30PM on Thursday, 23rd August 2018 on the Main Screens. The full festival line-up of films is available on their official site, where all ticketing information can also be found. Wicked Horror will once again be there, to bring you all the must-read reviews and exclusive interviews from this year’s festival. So stay tuned.