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by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
January 22nd, 2013

“This isn’t a horror movie,” writer-director Calvin Reeder told the audience before the World Premiere of his new feature The Rambler. “It’s a Midnight Movie. We’re way less conservative than a horror movie.” By which Reeder seems to mean that he doesn’t need to follow cinematic conventions the way traditional horror movies do. And yet to say that Reeder’s film is more liberated might imply that his work lacks structure or intent. There are many lesser movies that attempt this type of manic gory psychedelia, but generally they are sloppy and effortless, artless and unintelligent. Reeder’s films, by contrast, are meticulously planned (every sound effect is in the script, every flash frame is storyboarded), and the arc of The Rambler references classic b-cinema directly, while moreover standing firmly on the shoulders of Homeric epic and Becket-like eternal returns.

The Rambler (played with a searing deadpan by Dermot Mulroney) is a man just out of jail, trying to make his way across the country to a secure job and “soft landing” on his brother’s quaint and familial horse farm. Along the way, every hitch-hiked ride and roadside bar stop presents our stoic hero with a new Odyssean mythical challenge, from gambling boxing impresario to a mummy-making dream stealer. All along he his led by or followed by or haunted by his Penelope (Lindsay Pulsipher), a Siren who gets her head smashed in while singing, a Circe who’s elixirs cause her vomit-spewing, monstrous transformation. Her endless deaths eventually chase The Rambler into the domestic life, but he has been forever changed by the journey, and has to hit the road again (again, as with Odysseus, seeking a nihilist destruction through adventure).

Once again Calvin Reeder has carefully woven multiple layers of meaning within his intense splatter-gore effects and hilarious oddball scenarios, making The Rambler a smart and wildly fun journey.

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3 Responses to “Sundance Review: “The Rambler””

  1. Skiiler Cheatham says:

    How awesome I have been waiting for the release of this movie!I was in roswell correctional center where parts of this movie was filmed and was actually in it as an extra almost every scene that was filmed there.

  2. Tom says:

    This sounds very interesting. I am so glad that I came across this article. Now I can add The Rambler to one of the movies that I am definitely looking forward to watch.

  3. Terry says:

    Dermot Mulroney and Natasha Lyonne are in this film. I look forward to seeing it sometime. Guess its kind of a comedy horror film with some drama thrown in.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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