Sarah Paulson is the hardest-working actor in Hollywood—this year alone, she’s in four television series, one miniseries, and the feature I’m reviewing here, Run. She’s a welcome sight in all of them, bringing her all to each character she plays. As Diane Sherman, the troubled mother of a disabled daughter, we get to see another side of her. Playing opposite in what is basically a two-hander, is newcomer Kiera Allen as Chloe. She’s more than able to hold her own against the screen veteran, and there is an added layer of authenticity to her character, as Allen is an actual wheelchair-user.
Diane is an overprotective mom, and who can blame her? Her baby was born premature and plagued with paralysis, plus health problems galore. Dad is either out of the picture or was never in it; he’s not mentioned. It’s just mother and daughter together. Always together, in fact. Chloe has been home-schooled and cared for by Diane her whole life. She’s a bright, happy girl but at seventeen, she is excited about getting out into the world and seeing what life could be like on her own. She’s ready to spread her proverbial wings.
As she waits for the mail daily to see if she’s been accepted at any of the colleges she’s applied for, Chloe dutifully submits to her mother’s daily doses of meds and carefully doled out rations of meals and treats. It’s Chloe’s love of chocolate that leads her to snooping one day, which in turn tips to the discovery that something’s not quite right with Mom. Rather than hiding from the truth, Chloe uncovers layer upon layer of lies and betrayal. Needless to say, Diane reacts like a cornered animal and will stop at nothing to keep Chloe under wraps.
Run is the brainchild of director Aneesh Chaganty and his co-writer Sev Ohanian, who produced Natalie Qasabian. If those three names ring bells, it’s because they are the team behind the acclaimed 2018 John Cho vehicle, Searching—another intense parent-child thriller. I didn’t see Searching, so I can’t say how Run stacks up, but clearly, these are talented filmmakers with a good grasp of what audiences want to see. Cinematographer Hillary Spera (The Craft: Legacy) isn’t especially stylized, but the score by Torin Borrowdale (Searching) is pretty pulse-pounding.
Run has a little bit in common with the award-winning limited series The Act, which was based on the true-life tragedy of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard. At the center of both stories is Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a caregiver exaggerates, fabricates, or induces sickness in another person for attention and pity. Run also feels a bit like the classic Gaslight, which starred Ingrid Bergman as a person manipulated into believing she is delusional. However, Run offers very little in the way of psychological introspection—it’s a thriller for the sake of thrills, first and foremost.
Sometimes those thrills come at the expense of sense and reason. While the suspense is indeed white-knuckle, there are a few times where you’ll probably think to yourself, “Wait… nobody would really say or do that.” I don’t mind suspending disbelief for a fun flick, but I would have liked to have seen a little more logic applied here. (If Run was a horror movie, I’d give it more leeway.)
Overall, Run is fast-paced, easy to enjoy, and fills the entertainment bill. Recommended.
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Run had been set for a May 8 Mother’s Day week opening, but was pulled by Lionsgate in mid-March as theaters shuttered due to the pandemic—now it’s going to debut on Hulu on November 20.