RUN -- A Cruel Exercise in Misery
Review by Adam Donato
Written and directed by the filmmaker behind Searching, Aneesh Chaganty, Run is a horror-thriller about a disabled teen who becomes suspicious of her mother. Sarah Paulson headlines the cast as the mother and is accompanied by (relatively new) actress Kiera Allen as her daughter. As families around the country are stuck together during quarantine, this movie couldn’t feel more relevant for today’s teens.
Even if you haven’t seen Misery, this is still a prominent story in popular culture. The antagonist keeps the protagonist disabled for their own selfish gain and tries to stop them from escaping. The story is nothing that hasn’t been done before. This story changes up the characters as it is a mother-daughter story. How relatable, as what teenager doesn’t feel suffocated by their mom and longs to go off to college? On that note, this movie would also hit home for soon-to-be empty nesters. That being said, it would be hard to recommend such a dark and sad movie about this concept to anyone who could find it relatable.
Sarah Paulson is obviously the selling point of the movie. Look at Chaganty moving up from John Cho to Sarah Paulson, who has a strong fanbase as this role fits well into her niche. Her character in this movie starts out as sympathetic but devolves into cartoonishly evil, not unlike Octavia Spencer in Ma. She leans into the performance though, as she multiple times does a complete 180 between sentences. Is the performance especially good? Not necessarily, but one could make the argument that it’s less on her and more on the script. Newbie Kiera Allen holds her own very well against Paulson. Her character fits very well into the ‘innocent young woman turned badass’ in a horror movie as she is extremely sympathetic and hard-nosed in the movie.
The script is less than spectacular, especially knowing that these are the same writers from Searching. Even the title feels like they were trying to be cute but comes across as extremely distasteful. It’s an obnoxiously standard story that can be seen from a mile away. At a certain point, it felt like they ran out of things for the antagonist to say as to why they are doing what they’re doing. Oh how this movie could’ve used a nice sit down between the girl and her mother as she gives some kind of actual real justification for anything that she is doing. While everyone loves seeing the villain get their karma in the end, the middle of the movie could’ve used some kind of moral ambiguity, as opposed to the outright maliciousness of everything the mother does.
The direction is solid. The tense moments that are oh so vital to a thriller work very well. All the scenes of Allen trying to escape are extremely stressful. This isn’t “oh it’s a dumb person in a horror movie making poor decisions” cliche, this is a girl who has to overcome unique obstacles that are specific to her character. For that, the movie deserves credit. As stated earlier, the performances are very well and carry the majority of the movie. The standout sequence shot-wise was the mother’s group therapy session at the beginning. Establishing all of the members using only their hands is a stroke of genius. The audience learns everything about them that they need to know, without even seeing their faces. Not to mention, the motif of characters looking down on each other through a window made the emotional moments hit that much harder.
When it comes to movies that premiere on streaming sites, recommendations are different. It’s not a movie that would be worth going out to the theater to see, but it’s perfectly fine to throw on during a late and rainy night for some mild entertainment. It’s been there, done that material, but done by some very capable talent. The target audience would have to be said Sarah Paulson niche fans, and they will enjoy watching one of their favorite horror actresses be creepy. If one does not find themselves in that category, steer clear.
Run streams on Hulu beginning November 20.
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