Saturday, December 8, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: Some Rides Should Never Be Shared

The Ranger (2018): I’ve read quite a few good things about Jenn Wexler’s throwback slasher, and it’s certainly a better film than many another of this particular genre by virtue of not being crap. However, while it does do a couple of half-clever things, it never quite comes together for me. The slashing and the violence isn’t impactful enough for my tastes, the psychological underpinnings not quite sharp enough, and the titular Ranger never feels like anything but a movie psycho who talks too much. It’s still perfectly serviceable but I have to admit I expected something more/deeper from it than it delivered.

Ride (2018): This, one the other hand, directed by Jeremy Unger, promises to deliver some sort of psychological cat-and-mouse game between a not-Uber driver (Jessie T. Usher), a passenger (Bella Thorne) and another passenger who turns out to be a manipulative sociopath (Will Brill), but keeps the psychological tension too loose for much too long, spending the first half of what is a pretty short running time on nearly desperate attempts to be An LA Movie™. So we get the name dropping, the place dropping, and way too much insipid small talk I can only hope isn’t actually what’s going on in not-taxis in LA. This, again, isn’t a terrible film, but it is trying so hard to be meta-clever one, it misses out on simply being a good one first.

Murder Party (2007): Whereas this film about a lonely guy who stumbles upon what he thinks is an exclusive Halloween party but quickly finds himself victimized by a bunch of would-be artists planning to kill him FOR ART, is indeed meta and clever, actually meta and clever. It’s an often outrageously funny bit of the darkest comedy that climaxes in more blood and gore than I would have expected coming in. On the way, it satirizes a certain kind of poseur artist, people who make fun of poseur artists, itself, and stories about people getting sacrificed for art.

At the same time, Saulnier also manages to portray these rather broad characters and their relations in a curiously kind and believable way, somehow mocking them without feeling cruel. And nobody’s talking about his guest spot on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. either.

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