This week on May 9th, Jenn Wexler’s indie punk horror film The Ranger premieres on AMC’s horror streaming service Shudder. The film debuted last summer and ran through the festival circuit. Wexler, who cut her teeth producing at Glass Eye Pix, co-wrote the script with Giaco Furino and the film feels like Wolf Creek by way of Return of the Living Dead. A film called The Ranger is only as strong as its titular villain and that role went to veteran actor Jeremy Holm (House of Cards, Mr. Robot). I got a chance to speak with him as the film prepares to make its streaming debut.
Geeks of Doom: I just rewatched The Ranger last night, getting ready for the big Shudder premiere.
Jeremy Holm: Yeah man, it’s very exciting, I can’t wait for it to be on Shudder.
Geeks of Doom: I guess my first question, since we already mentioned Shudder, are you a horror movie fan?
Jeremy Holm: I get asked the question occasionally since doing The Ranger and I’ll be honest with you, I was not a horror fan. I mean I’ve watched horror movies, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan because that’s a special group of people. But I am now. When I was getting ready to do the film I asked everyone associated with The Ranger to give me their top 5 and I watched 100 horror movies with my wife after we put our kids to bed. She’d say, ‘another horror movie?’ I fell in love and now I am a horror fan.
Geeks of Doom: That kind of takes me into my next question, were there any horror characters you drew inspiration from?
Jeremy Holm: No, and I did that on purpose. I didn’t want to appropriate someone else’s work. I did do this and it’s sort of a strange answer to your question. I did base my character on a few famous portrayals, one of them being Michael Landon from Little House on the Prairie.
Geeks of Doom: Makes sense based on the material.
Jeremy Holm: Yeah, and he had an individuality to him that was similar to The Ranger. I used him as an early template. The costume did a lot for me. When I went down and tried on The Ranger costume, that did a great deal to help figure out who this man was. Then there was this guy I grew up with who was about five to six years older than me and here was a tough guy named Tom. I based part of my character on him too.
Geeks of Doom: I am a huge horror fan and I have to say from the second I saw the movie at the premiere, I thought your character had the ability to become a modern day horror icon, the likes of a Leatherface or Freddy. So as someone who wasn’t always a horror fan, and with the film premiering on Shudder, which is gaining a big following, are you prepared for this type of exposure to the horror community?
Jeremy Holm: Well, without giving away too much, I just got back from Louisiana where I was making another thriller for another famous writer who has an amazing track record with another franchise and I’m in love with doing it. I told Jenn Wexler, I’ll play The Ranger anywhere and any time. I think there’s so much fodder for sequels and I know that a couple of the producers are very interested in that. But we need Shudder-Nation to give us good reviews and shout outs. What you just said blows my mind and it would be a real honor to follow all those greats like Leatherface, Robert Englund, and all those guys. That would be really cool.
Geeks of Doom: One of my favorite things in the film about The Ranger himself is his quirkiness, his recitation of all the park codes and stuff like that. Were those real? If so how many did you learn, and how into this character did you get?
Jeremy Holm: I did read the Ranger park rules from the early 1950s. The codes that we used in the picture are from a park ranger from Nevada. One of the producers named Darryl has a travel tours company in the Grand Canyon, and he’s friends with a lot of these park rangers. So when he read the script, he found all the real codes for the violations these kids are committing. So those are all real and yes I did learn them.
Geeks of Doom: I really enjoyed that aspect and when you mentioned sequels, I thought of all the possibilities with more park ranger codes!
Jeremy Holm: Well, Jenn Wexler and Giaco Furino are really talented, so who knows what they’re going to do. The possibilities are endless. I would be excited to do anything they have in mind. I’ve heard some whispers, but I can’t say too much.
Geeks of Doom: I appreciate the whispers. Without getting into spoiler territory, the ending of the film gets very physical and you’re a big guy. What was it like working those scenes with Chloe Levine?
Jeremy Holm: I’m 6’1″ and Chloe is not. But that girl is tough. Jenn Wexler kept pushing us and pushing us in that scene. You have to take care of your acting partner, you don’t want to hurt anyone. But also you want it to look as real as possible so we pushed it right to the line, got to the edge of it, and maybe crossed it a bit here and there. Neither of us got hurt, but we both were probably a little sore the next day. That’s the art of making a movie, you gotta go for it.
Geeks of Doom: The Ranger has incredible music. The dichotomy between the punk rock music when the kids are on screen and the slow melodic, yet menacing music when you’re on screen is fascinating. You even have your own theme it seems.
Jeremy Holm: Yeah, there’s a story behind that. My process for this film, and for each one it’s different, but for this film I’d get up in the morning and read the whole script and then I’d pick a few scenes to work on. As I was doing that this song from my childhood kept creeping into my head and I started to listen to it. It’s that Charlie Rich song, “Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl…” So I bought the song, and I kept listening to it and actually wrote down the lyrics. I said to Jenn, when we get a good take, I want to do a take in this scene where I’m singing this song. It was suggested in the script that there is some country-western music playing. I sing it in a few takes here and there and Andrew van den Houten saw the cut they gave him using the actual song as a placeholder, he went ahead and wrote the check to get the rights to the song. So that’s how we got that song in the movie and then the composers interpolated that into the soundtrack. It’s a great example of collaboration and the composers did a brilliant job of using something that for me was just a suggestion and really making it part of the experience when you’re watching The Ranger get down to business.
Geeks of Doom: You have a few scenes in this film with Jete Laurence, who plays young Chelsea, and I just saw her in the new Pet Sematary and she’s becoming quite a little scream queen herself. What were those scenes like and how do you as an actor deal with acting against the same character, but with two different ages and actors?
Jeremy Holm: First of all, she’s just a sweet little kid and I have a daughter who’s her age. When her mom brought her to the screening of our film, I sat two seats away and I was shocked because I won’t let my girls watch it until they graduate from college. But she watched it and she’s a very mature young lady. She does have an innocence to her on screen, and I have no doubt she is going to have a nice little run coming up. We shot those scenes earlier in the process, so I was able to track the Chelsea character into Chloe’s interpretation and it worked rather nicely I think.
Geeks of Doom: Do you have a favorite scene of yours in the film? Your favorite Ranger moment?
Jeremy Holm: Yeah, I like the scene that has to do with “catch and release,” and the final is probably my favorite. The final scenes between Chelsea and The Ranger I love. I loved shooting them and I love watching them back. It was a lot of fun.
Geeks of Doom: Talking straight to the Shudder audience, what should they expect from The Ranger?
Jeremy Holm: I would want them to think about all the horror movies they’ve seen in the last 3 – 4 years and think about The Ranger in terms of all of horror-dom and compare it to all those old classics because we were really trying to tip our hat to the classics but also do something that hasn’t really been done before. I think people are going to love it. It’s not just a body count movie. There’s certainly some death in it and I’m just thankful that people get a chance to watch it.
Geeks of Doom: I want to give you a chance to plug yourself a bit. You mentioned a movie in Louisiana that you can’t talk about, what projects do you have that we can talk about?
Jeremy Holm: Yeah sure, I have a movie coming out this Fall called Silo, which is a beautiful midwestern American film about family and farming and a terrible tragedy that comes to a community and how it gets solved. I have another film called Unintended coming out this Fall and it was actually shot right after The Ranger. They were shot back to back and I actually stayed in the same hotel room, it was the weirdest thing. I’m in the Best Western and I’m walking to my room thinking, ‘wait a minute 228, this is crazy!’ There’s other stuff, but I’m not allowed to talk about it. I’m heading to Vegas this week to do a movie about a rancher, so that’ll be fun. I’m excited about that.
Geeks of Doom: One of my favorite things to do for Geeks of Doom is to go to the horror conventions. With The Ranger about to be seen by many more people this week, do you think you’d be interested in hitting the con circuit?
Jeremy Holm: I have actually already spoke to my team about that. I would like to do it and I’m totally interested in doing it. I think that’s going to happen in the near near future. I love the fans. Horror fans are like no other type of movie fans. They’re super smart, they are really down to earth and kind people and they are very loyal. What are the best conventions, which ones should I start with?
Geeks of Doom: I live in Brooklyn, New York, so I primarily stay in the tri-state area. I’ve covered recently the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival, Monster-Mania, my wife and I recently covered the Great Philly Comic Con. There are bigger ones outside of my travel range like HorrorHound, Texas Frightmare, MonsterPalooza, those are all pretty huge.
Jeremy Holm: Well, if The Ranger catches on, and if there are more Ranger movies, I’ll definitely have to get out there.
Some interviews are straight question and answer, while others come across as casual conversation. Big thanks to Jeremy Holm who was such a classy guy, and we had a great chat. I can’t wait for The Ranger to hit Shudder and find a new audience. It premieres on the streaming service on Thursday, May 9, 2019. Shudder is only $4.99 a month or $49.99 for the year and you can get a 7-day free trial by going to shudder.com. If you get the free trial, that means you’ll be able to see The Ranger!
Read my full review of the fil as well as my interview with director Jenn Wexler.
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