There’s a reason thrillers have “thrill” in the word. The best entries in this genre know how to get in and get out, providing a thrill ride for the viewer. Certain things can be forgiven in a good thriller as long it feels like your hair has been blown back by the end. Director Aneesh Chagaty delivered a strong twist on the genre with Searching in 2018, which was told all through electronic devices. His sophomore film, Run, is much more straightforward and about as thrilling. Pulling from Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, Brian de Palma, and more, Run stitches together scenes from some of the best films. At just 90 minutes, Run moves briskly and never overstays its welcome, even if it evaporates just as soon after.
The opening credits do more than just say the title and cast. It lists the diseases that Chloe (Kiera Allen) was born with, including paralysis, diabetes, asthma, and more. We catch up with Chloe seventeen years later. She uses a wheelchair and is dispensed medications by her Mom, Diane (Sarah Paulson). However, things are looking up as she intends to start college at the University of Washington in the fall. Unfortunately, Diane seems to have other plans for Chloe, unable to fully let her grip go on her daughter. As Chloe grows uncomfortable with her Mom’s level of control over her, she starts to suspect Diane has been keeping things from her. Confusion with her medications leads Chloe to investigate further. As they say, when there’s smoke, there’s fire.
It would be a shame to spoil some of the movie’s twists and turns. Needless to say, the script, written by Chagaty and co-writer Sev Ohanian, excels once revelations stack on top of each other in the final act. By this point, Run leans heavily into camp, for its own betterment. It takes a while for the film to feel fast and fun. The first half comes across like a more stilted version of The Act. It takes a while to shake comparisons between Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Once it does though, it’s a great time.
As Diane, Sarah Paulson dictates the tone of the film. She sells Diane’s commitment as a mother in the early scenes. Yet, as we go on, she takes more cues from Piper Laurie in Carrie. Paulson expertly uses her intensity as an actress to show the frightening side of a mother’s love. It’s always a treat to watch her explore a new character and she does not disappoint.
Newcomer Kiera Allen carries the movie incredibly well, especially for a newcomer. As the movie starts, we’re introduced to Chloe as she starts to suspect her Mom of foul play. We have to catch up pretty quickly as Chloe begins to piece things together about her medications. Allen’s very expressive performance helps us immediately get on her side and fill in what the first seventeen years of her life must’ve been like. Casting an actor with a disability was also key to making this character feel authentic. Allen doesn’t feel like she’s “studied” an illness and is playing symptoms. Instead, she’s able to bring her own personal experiences into the role and concentrate on Chloe’s journey of skepticism towards her mother.
At 90 minutes, Run makes for a fun movie night in. It delivers the necessary thrills and features two very strong performances. It doesn’t possess the same ingenuity and uniqueness as Chaganty’s previous film, Searching. It’s fun to see the fingerprints of Chaganty’s directorial influences throughout the film. Yet, this pastiche never quite becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It’s fun and easily digestible, just unlikely to last long in your memory.
“Run” premieres on Hulu on Friday, November 20th.