The Movie Waffler Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Review - RUN HIDE FIGHT | The Movie Waffler

Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Review - RUN HIDE FIGHT

run hide fight review
A schoolgirl fights back against the psychotic classmates who take her school hostage.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Kyle Rankin

Starring: Isabel May, Thomas Jane, Radha Mitchell, Eli Brown, Olly Sholotan, Treat Williams, Barbara Crampton

run hide fight poster

One of the few silver linings of the COVID crisis is the temporary halt it's put on America's school shootings. Prior to going into lockdown, the US seemed to be suffering an epidemic of kids shooting up their teachers and fellow students in high schools and college campuses across the nation. The binary response to these events is always the same, with liberals calling for stricter gun control (but never actually doing anything about it) and conservatives claiming a few dead kids are a worthy trade-off for "freedom". Americans never seem willing to delve further into why this sort of thing happens so regularly in their country, and anyone who dares to suggest any reasons is scolded. "Too soon," they're told. Or "Don’t politicise this." But with these mass shootings occurring on practically a weekly basis, it always seems to be "too soon" to have an honest debate about the pressures heaped on teenagers about to enter the most dog-eat-dog society in the Western world.

School shootings are similarly considered a taboo subject for filmmakers, and though a few have tackled the subject – Gus Vant's Elephant; Rene Daalder's Massacre at Central High; Matt Johnson's The Dirties – none have been willing to really interrogate the subject. They usually pass off the motivations of their shooters as revenge for being bullied, laying the blame on the killers' teenage classmates rather than the adult society that tells American kids that if they don’t get into a top college they face a life where a trip to the emergency room will financially ruin them.

run hide fight review

Writer/director Kyle Rankin's Run Hide Fight similarly, despicably seeks to shame high school kids, not for bullying and creating monsters, but for not standing up and fighting back during school shootings. Essentially a half-assed Die Hard knockoff set amid a school siege, it's one of the most morally reprehensible movies I've had the misfortune to endure for quite some time.

Like the recent Rosamund Pike vehicle I Care a Lot, Run Hide Fight seems to come with a diploma from the Megyn Kelly school of feminism, giving us a heroine who is near impossible to like, but whom the movie seems to think we'll root for in a way we might not were she a male. Isabel May is admittedly very, very good in the lead role of Zoe Hull, who with her combat jacket and gun obsession, seems exactly the sort of kid you might expect to shoot up a school. When we meet her first, she's out shooting with her creepy military vet father (Thomas Jane) and bags her first deer, all before breakfast. Congratulations Zoe, you just killed a large, docile animal with a high powered piece of technology! If, like me, you think people who hunt animals are human trash, it's going to be difficult for you to root for Zoe. Her Dad boasts about how they'll be able to eat the deer for weeks. Get your food from Walmart, you douchebags!

run hide fight review

Anyway, Zoe, who is surly because her Mom (Radha Mitchell) died of Cancer, heads to school, where she finds herself in the bathroom when the movie's villains show up, ramming a van into the school cafeteria. Led by Tristan (Eli Brown), the shooters are as clichéd a bunch of antagonists as you'll find in any bad Die Hard clone. Of course they're Goths, because teenagers who take an interest in "dark" stuff (unlike those healthy teens who like to murder defenceless animals) should be viewed with mistrust. Just to make it more distasteful, it's hinted that Tristan might be bisexual. Tristan is also portrayed as hyper-intelligent, because if there's one thing Americans mistrust, it's intelligence.

After initially escaping from the school, Zoe suddenly decides to turn Rambo and head back inside to take on the shooters. As she takes them down one by one, she's accompanied by hallucinations of her mother, and is aided by her Dad, who sets himself up outside the school with a sniper rifle.

run hide fight review

Far from critiquing the ability of kids to get their hands on sophisticated weaponry, Run Hide Fight pushes the "good guy with a gun" myth. In one of the more offensive moments, the school's resident security guard is mocked for being armed only with a baton, and he soils himself when confronted by his teenage Goth adversaries. But let's not pretend that so-called "liberal" American action movies don’t push this same pro-gun message. Just look at the Purge series, which always comes down to the idiotic libertarian idea that the public should be armed so as to defend themselves from their own government.

While I was never going to get on board with the politics of Run Hide Fight, I'm willing to overlook that aspect if the movie is well made (I'm an unapologetic fan of John Milius's right wing propaganda movie Red Dawn). Run Hide Fight is not well made. The set-pieces are almost non-existent, with Zoe taking down the baddies in the most forgettable fashion. The main problem is that Rankin never establishes the geography of the school, so we never know where Zoe is in relation to her antagonists, erasing any potential for "don’t go around that corner" moments of tension and suspense. Aside from possibly introducing us to the next Jennifer Lawrence in May, Run Hide Fight has nothing to offer anyone on either side of this moral and political debate.

Run Hide Fight
 plays online at the Glasgow Film Festival from March 5th to 8th.

2021 movie reviews