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First Look Review - RANGE RUNNERS

range runners review
When a runner's belongings are stolen by two men in the woods, she sets out to take back what's hers.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Philip S. Plowden

Starring: Celeste M Cooper, Sean Patrick Leonard, Michael B. Woods, Tiffany Renee Johnson

range runners poster





As young Mel runs the racetrack with her father coaching from the sidelines, she hurts herself, but Dad shakes it off with “This is a teachable moment” and “pain is in your head.” This small opening scene establishes the ‘tough love’ relationship our now-grown protagonist shared with her Dad/coach and gives valuable background to the character we are about to spend almost two hours with.

In present day, we now see grown Melanie running through the woods to eventually meet up with her sister Chloe. They drive to a nearby hotel where mild tensions between the two siblings are clear. Chloe has had the thankless job of pacer, sitting in the car while Mel runs each leg of her just completed course.

This next leg seems to be a longer one; “See you in eight days” she tells her sister the next morning, and as she runs off into the woods we pan to the boot of the car where the phone she chose not to take sits there like an exclamation mark.


range runners review

Several hours into her first day's run and against her better judgement, Mel stops to lend assistance to a man by the side of the trail. His feet appear to be covered in blisters, and while she is tending to him a larger man appears from the forest.

This larger and intimidating man tells an obvious lie about his own injury, and she indicates that she knows this is a lie before telling the blistered man to get himself some hiking boots and running on her way.

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After sheltering for the night she wakes to find the two men are there also, having arrived at her shelter as she slept. They invite her to join them for breakfast but it’s tense, and she seems foolish to take them up on their request.

When they rob and leave her in the woods, they just awaken the fighter her father encouraged in her all those years ago.

It seems Mel will stop at nothing to track them down and retrieve her belongings, willing to risk life and limb as she determinedly fights for what is hers.


range runners review

Before you know it, the film becomes a survival story where neither party will give up.

Written by Devon Colwell and directed by Philip S Plowden, Range Runners is not an entirely new or revolutionary story, but the idea of including flashbacks to the athletic childhood of the central protagonist certainly helps to give substance to what can, in other similar movies, be a less nuanced role. The secret here is to maintain the tautness inherent in the situation, and in this they do succeed.

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Range Runners' main problem is that it's over-long, allowing for a flabby midsection that struggles to hold the audience's interest; there seems to be little need for such a simple story to be almost two hours in length.

However, for the most part, this is entertaining and gripping stuff. The stunning surrounds are shot intuitively and cleverly by Plowden, with even the gruesome climactic showdown treated with just the right amount of restraint.


range runners review

All actors are believable and naturalistic with Michael B Woods as Jared giving us a nicely contextualised character; but Celeste M Cooper goes a step beyond and gives a powerhouse of a performance as the embattled Mel - she’s the heart and strength of this film.

The final scene brings just the right touch of melancholy and ties the story together in ways I hadn’t suspected.

A thriller worth running out for.

Range Runners is on US DVD/VOD now. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.




2020 movie reviews