If genre cinema ran a travel agency it would definitely be offering vacations to a cabin in the woods; teens go half price. Indeed, the willingness of (particularly American) teenagers to leave their cities and go into the country, often with hardly a brain cell between them, is uncanny. Jenn Wexler knows her way around a horror, with producing credits on the likes of Darling, Most Beautiful Island and Like Me. For her first feature she takes a gang of punks for some good wholesome outdoor fun.
When Chelsea (Chloë Levine) was a little girl her uncle was killed near where he lived in a National Park. Today, she mostly hangs out with her boyfriend Garth (Granit Lahu) and the rest of their band (Jeremy Pope and Bubba Weiler). After a club they’re in is raided, he ends up stabbing a police officer. On the run, they steal a van, along with the willing owner (Amanda Grace Benitez) and hole up in the cabin. The ranger (Jeremy Holm) is determined that they will do no damage to the park on his watch.
Whilst The Ranger doesn’t re-invent the wheel or push any boundaries, it has a freshness and sense of purpose which make for lively entertainment. The premise itself is familiar, but the way its executed is not. It’s clear that Wexler has an eye for, and comprehensive understanding of, genre cinema; playing with a whole host of tropes and clichés before gleefully defying expectations. She created a film which is smart, sassy, and above all, great fun.
The Ranger is available exclusively on Shudder from 9 May.