By Breanna Whipple
CALGARY – Modern pop-culture is inarguably rooted in revivalism. Stranger Things is an ever-expanding love letter to the 1980s, and we gorge ourselves on it because it was a decade of excess. With the popularity of the aforementioned television show spreading over to the world of film, everyone is trying their hand at paying homage to the unique world of ’80s horror. What few misunderstand is though excess is what drives the elements of slashers, they too must remain unassuming. Authenticity comes from being genuine and injecting a sense of self into your work. This is what makes Jenn Wexler’s The Ranger a glittering standalone in a sea of aspiring John Carpenter clones.
The Ranger taps into the world of authoritarian horror – I’m honestly not sure if I just coined a term there or not, but what I mean by this is films wherein the killer is a corrupt figure of authority who is typically viewed as a source of security. Cops, forest rangers, teachers, you name it! As you can imagine, this results in the mass slaughter of deceived movie fodder. There is a subtext, of course, and with all that is happening in the world these days it cannot be ignored. That being said, much like all the silly direct-to-video gore-fests of the late ’80s, The Ranger is one hell of a fun ride.
Many strive to revive the essence of a Friday night rental that sculpted all us genre fans into what we are, and with the tongue-in-cheek dialogue and excessive gore, this feels like a near bullseye. This isn’t ‘elevated horror’ – don’t expect to dissect it with suit-and-tie cinephiles. This was meant for those of us that love popcorn flicks, those of us sporting Frank Henenlotter shirts to the latest Hollywood horror inevitably disappointed upon departure. ‘They just don’t make ’em like they used to’ – Sure, but I’d be damned to say if The Ranger didn’t come close.
The Ranger will screen as part of the Calgary International Film Festival. Screenings will take place at Globe Cinema on September 22 at 9:15pm, and at Eau Claire Cineplex on September 29 at 4:30pm.Calgary International Film Festival, CIFF, Eau Claire Cineplex, Globe Cinema, Stranger Things, The Ranger