Death Ranch is a homage to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s but dressed up in a way that means the actual film making doesn't try and replicate entirely the quality of footage from that era. This was written and directed by Charlie Steeds (An English Haunting, Escape from Cannibal Farm) and while it may be light on plot, it isn't light on extreme over the top violence against people most deserving.
It is the late 70s and Brandon (Deiondre Teagle - Painted in Blood) has recently escaped from prison. His brother Clarance (Travis Cutner - Spooked) and sister Angela (Faith Monique - Spider-Man: Homecoming) pick him up, with a plan to head to a remote ranch that their parents used to own, in order to hide out. There is just one tiny flaw in their plan however, in the intervening years a cannibalistic chapter of the Ku Klux Klan has taken over the ranch, and so the three siblings find themselves surrounded on all sides, being hunted by a group of redneck racists who want nothing more than to see them all dead.
The synopsis provided is about as deep as the story ever gets, and Death Ranch doesn't waste much time getting into the core survival storyline. It soon becomes clear that the white robes of the KKK are perfect for showing blood and gore, and with such a hateful group it is fun seeing all the violence inflicted upon them. This violence is the main meal of the film with a lot of the eighty minute run time dedicated to mainly Brandon and Angela battling them. The special effects are fun, there are plenty of decapitations, body trauma, lost appendages and more, with bullets and axes all used to do this. Everything is trashy and over the top and so you get unrealistic, yet amusing moments such as a head being taken off with a crowbar, an eyeball being bitten out of someone's face and someone being fed their own intestines. This is a bloody film, but the horror is so over the top that it becomes enjoyable to watch. The only noticeably poor prop came from a severed arm that really didn't look remotely realistic.
The isn't much character development, but it is easy to get on the protagonists side, especially when the antagonists are not only horribly racist, but also almost comically inept, often shown to be cowardly as well as dense. With Brandon being on the run from the law it makes sense why he decides to take matters into his own hands rather than seek outside help. In terms of the story not much happens, this is pure dumb entertainment not intended to impart any sort of message and by sticking to its guns Death Ranch achieves exactly what it sets out to do. It was a good decision to give some of the antagonists personality, Jeb (Thomas Mark Higgins - The Frozen Ground), Gator (Brad Belemjian - Clowntergeist) and Delmar (Scot Scurlock - Homestead) in particular were made more fun by them having bigger speaking roles. The hooded robes of the bad guys made for some memorable scenes visually, particularly a large gun fight that occurs towards the start of the third act.
Death Ranch is only going to appeal to you if you are going to watch it with the right intentions in mind. If you are expecting a well thought out and meaningful horror then none of that will be here. If however you are happy to switch off your mind and watch some likeable black leads take out a whole bunch of idiotic racists to the tune of some competently messy special effects then there is fun to be had here for sure. Death Ranch is due for release on 11th October from High Fliers Films.