Made by military veterans, for military veterans, Range 15 is a zombie movie experience unlike any other. The film begins with a newly-retired soldier named Mat Best (playing himself) who finds himself incarcerated after a wild night out to celebrate his reentry into civilian life. Best and his buddies squabble in their respective jail cells, but soon put their differences aside after it becomes apparent that the zombie apocalypse has begun outside. So, along with his fellow soldiers, they gear up, load their weapons, and set out to save the world.
There is not a single dull moment in Range 15; it is absolutely packed with near-constant twists and turns that keep the viewer on the edge of their seat, begging for more. The zombie-killing scenes are awesome and incredibly bloody, with some of the undead played by actual amputee veterans, who used their missing limbs to add to the realism. However, unlike most zombie films that tend to play heavy metal or dubstep during such intense sequences, Range 15 ingeniously injects softer songs like What a Wonderful World, which is in stark contrast to the graphic violence that is unfolding onscreen.
The choice in music demonstrates how soldiers have to deal differently with violence and death. In any moment in war, if someone stops for a second to ponder the gravity of battle or the death toll, that second can cost them their life, so those thoughts and feelings have to be processed differently so they can live to fight another day. Hence why the choice of a soothing jazz classic, instead of a heavy metal favorite, makes more sense here.
Within Range 15 there are many military-themed jokes, but these parts of the film are crafted in such a way that if the viewer is paying attention, they can pick it up right away. For example, there is a confrontation between the main characters and a completely uniformed soldier who is an officer, in which the officer proposes a ridiculous plan to keep the zombies out of the building they are trying to protect. The officer screams at the characters to do as he says, but when he is abandoned he weakly tries to slap the zombies away from the door.
Throughout Range 15 there are also edgy scenes sprinkled in that may be potentially offensive to some viewers, but these are further tributes to the dark sense of humor that these men and women have to develop to deal with the worst humanity has to offer. But, if you can take a zombie-human sex scene, a man with a blow-up doll glued to his penis, you will be just fine. A variety of celebrities make cameos including; William Shatner and Danny Trejo, as well as Medal of Honor Recipients Leroy Petri and Clint Romesha, Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell (Lone Survivor), and many more.
I am an active duty military wife and sister, with my husband in the 82nd Airborne Division and my brother in 2nd Ranger Battalion. This experience over the last couple of years has been life-changing. No one can properly prepare you for the countless heartbreaks, frantic changes from day to day, or to how you leave the world you once knew as a civilian and instead join the small number of families that support our American service members.
With that being said, obviously, in the position I’m in, I had extremely high expectations for Range 15, because military members and their families are constantly done an enormous disservice in the entertainment industry. Not only are the uniforms never correct, but the actors always capture the spirit of the soldier, but not his struggle nor his bond with his teammates and family, or his disconnect with the people that he has dedicated his life to protect.
Range 15 does a fantastic job showing what military men and women are actually like; their sick and twisted form of comedy, their deliciously offensive mannerisms, and their undying support for each other, even if it so often requires a double dose of tough love. This is a movie that is an excellent bridge from the civilian world to the military one, which will hopefully open the door to understanding and showing compassion over the shared bloody, hilarious experience that is Range 15.
Overall, Range 15 is a kickass zombie movie that has all the great hallmarks of an annual favorite; celebrity cameos, hardcore zombie-killing action, and fearlessness with breaking the fourth wall multiple times. Although the movie was made by military veterans, for military veterans, watching Range 15 is an experience that anyone can enjoy, jam-packed with thrills, heartbreaking moments, and the earmark of any service member; their dark sense of humor.
You can catch Range 15 starting June 15, 2016
WICKED RATING: [usr=8]
Director(s): Ross Patterson
Writer(s): Billy Jay, Nick Palmisciano
Stars: Mat Best, Ross Patterson, Nick Palmisciano
Studio/ Production Co: Street Justice Films
Length: 90 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Horror, Comedy