This sophomore feature from filmmaker Calvin Reeder solidifies his stature as a blatant David Lynch copycat. From the jarring editing and a nonsensical narrative to the surreal characters and dream-like situations, The Rambler doesn’t just seem to borrow from films like Mulholland Dr. and
as much as poorly imitate. Like The
Oregonian, Reeder’s first feature, The
Rambler is purposefully confounding in both narrative and the
unconventional yet intentionally jarring manner in which the story is
presented. Even the worst of Lynch was more interesting and more coherent than
this muddled misstep, but fans of experimental horror may enjoy the unsettling
images and editing compiled in The
Rambler. Others may find that this 99 minute film feels much, much longer.
The basic plot of The Rambler seems impossibly simple, and perhaps this is because the feature film is actually based on a 12 minute short that Reeder completed in 2008. Dermot Mulroney stars as the nameless rambler, on his way cross country to work with his brother on a horse ranch after being released from prison early for good behavior. He makes a brief appearance back home, but after discovering the unfaithfulness of his wife and the bleakness of this existence, he makes plans to join his brother for a peaceful existence in
This peace is not easily found, as the rambler quickly discovers how quickly random violence occurs on the road. As he hitches rides across the country with his guitar in tow, rarely seeming to lose his hat and never parting with his sunglasses, this expressionless traveler comes across a cornucopia of quirky characters that range from harmless to homicidal. Oddly combining both of these attributes is the film’s more compelling character, a mad professor played by James Cady. He has a device which is said to copy dreams onto VHS, but it has a bad habit of exploding the subject’s heads instead.
This type of shock gore occurs randomly throughout The Rambler, as it did in Reeder’s debut, but I would not place in the category of horror. It seems an appreciation of horror may be necessary to enjoy this film, however, if enjoyment is indeed intended. There is a sincerity missing from Reeder’s material, which makes it difficult to tell whether this film is intended to have meaning or simply meant to aggravate and infuriate the audience. Or perhaps the filmmaker has no clue what any of it means, choosing to stylistically steal from other directors without figuring out what any of it means. Honestly, I could care less either way. Sincere or not, I didn’t enjoy The Rambler, but that has less to do with the gore or confounding filmmaking. By the end I was just bored. This material was better suited for 12 minutes.
The Blu-ray is void of special features, though there are technical aspects of the filmmaking which are inarguably enhanced by high definition. You don’t have to like it to appreciate the talent that went behind the nonsense.
Entertainment Value: 4/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3/10
Historical Significance: 1/10
Disc Features: 0/10