Review by Sean Boelman
Films that sit on the shelf for multiple years after their debut typically aren’t very good, but horror fans were ready to give the benefit of the doubt to Run Sweetheart Run because it seemed like the cause of the delay may have been pandemic-related. Although that is undoubtedly part of the cause, it seems like the bigger issue is that they didn’t know what to do with this insane (and insanely stupid) genre flick.
The movie follows an ambitious young woman whose blind date with a wealthy client of her law firm goes awry, sending her on a brutal quest to survive the night. This could have been a simple survival thriller with a social edge, but there are so many twists — many of which don’t add up to anything logical — that it will leave viewers more confused than entertained.
The pacing of the film is certainly aggressive. After a brief introduction to establish the characters and situation, the movie literally gets running. Once it hits its rhythm around the thirty minute mark, it doesn’t let up. While it should be thoroughly entertaining, the viewer will keep getting distracted by some baffling decisions made by the script and filmmaker.
One of the most irredeemable things about the movie is that it is nonsensical and lacks consistency. As soon as you think you understand what’s going on, the film changes and the story becomes something entirely different. Unfortunately, this seems to be the result of supposedly extensive reshoots that the movie has had since its debut at Sundance in 2020.
However, even if you can get past the fact that nothing makes sense or comes together in a satisfying way, you are sure to be put off by the script’s clunky metaphors. There is a literal plot point about the antagonist being able to smell the protagonist’s menstruation, and while it was intended as something to be feminist, the way it’s executed is embarrassingly clumsy.
It’s a shame, because Ella Balinska and Pilou Asbæk both do a solid job in their roles despite being given horrid dialogue to work with. Asbæk, in particular, overcomes the limitations of the script, giving a performance that is genuinely menacing despite the fact that almost everything he is being asked to do is genuinely goofy.
Director Shana Feste does give the film a solid retro vibe, but a fun score and some cool cinematography are not enough to maintain tension when the script is so frequently tumbling over itself. That said, there are some artistic decisions that simply do not work, like the use of on-screen text in moments of high tension that just says “RUN!” It’s unnecessary, and adds nothing to the atmosphere or story.
The first twenty minutes of Run Sweetheart Run show the potential it has to be an intriguing and important thriller, but it goes off the rails for the remainder of its runtime. It’s unclear whether the reshoots made the movie more or less bizarre, but whatever the case, the result is absolutely bonkers — and not a good way.
Run Sweetheart Run streams on Prime Video beginning October 28.