The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Netflix] - RUN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Netflix] - RUN

run review
A sickly and disabled teen suspects her mother of exacerbating her conditions.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty

Starring: Kiera Allen, Sarah Paulson, Pat Healy, Sara Sohn

run poster

I was trying to decide if Run could be considered an entry in the "Psycho Biddy" sub-genre. Sarah Paulson seems a little fresh-faced to be considered a biddy, but she's only a few years younger than Joan Crawford was when she made What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and a half decade older than Faye Dunaway when she played a sadistic Crawford in Mommie Dearest. I guess moisturiser has come on a lot over the decades.

run review

Anyway, Run falls squarely into the Psycho Biddy genre. Such movies, also sometimes known as "hagsploitation", usually feature a woman enacting cruelty on a vulnerable character, often out of some form of jealousy. In this case Diane Sherman (Paulson) has been drugging her daughter Chloe (Kiera Allen) since childhood, exacerbating the debilitating conditions she was born with. In a clever twist on the trope of opening a movie with a dictionary definition, Run gives us no less than five definitions of the various conditions afflicting Chloe - arrhythmia, hemochromatosis, asthma, diabetes, and paralysis.

Now aged 17 and confined to a wheelchair, Chloe is eagerly awaiting acceptance to college, but no such acceptance letter materialises. When Diane keeps intercepting the mail, Chloe grows suspicious, and her doubts about Mommy are raised further when she starts administering a mysterious new drug. Chloe tries to look up the drug online, only to find the internet has been suspiciously disconnected. Desperate for an answer as to just what Diane is up to, Chloe takes increasingly extreme measures to go behind her mother's back.

run review

Writer/director Aneesh Chaganty made an impressive feature debut with his clever "screenlife" thriller Searching, which like the Unfriended movies, played all its action out on its protagonist's laptop screen. For his follow-up he's settled for more conventional storytelling, and it often feels as though he's trying to distance himself as far as possible from his tech-savvy debut. Once the internet is cut, modern tech is practically absent from Run, which makes you wonder why he didn't just set the film at some point in the past to avoid such inconveniences. It's a little hard to swallow that a modern American teenager wouldn't own a cellphone, particularly one as reliant on communication as Chloe. There's also a curious absence of outside parties, save for the postman who pops by daily – doesn't Chloe have any friends?

Overlook such niggling questions and for much of its running time Run is a lot of fun. Paulson can pull off the deranged soccer mom act in her sleep, and is genuinely intimidating here, the sort of woman who wins arguments with retail clerks simply because they just want to get her the hell out of their store. A genuine wheelchair user, Allen is quite a find, adept in both the movie's lighter comic moments and those that put her in peril. Having a victimised disabled protagonist in a thriller always run the risk of coming off in poor taste, but Chaganty and co-screenwriter Sev Ohanian have made sure to give Chloe enough agency that while we root for her, we're never put in a position where we feel sorry for her because of her ailments – she's portrayed as intelligent and resourceful.

run review

It's a shame then that as the film progresses and we learn the full extent of the dynamic between Diane and Chloe, that it becomes increasingly hard to swallow. What transpires just doesn't hold up to any sort of scrutiny, and again it would have made sense to set this story in a past era where it might have played a little more plausibly. As a director, Chaganty certainly has chops, and his suspense sequences are impressively and economically assembled, but as a writer he's found lacking here. Run might be described as a bigger budget Lifetime thriller of the week, but for all their cheese, Lifetime thrillers generally boast much more airtight plotlines than can be found in Chaganty's difficult second movie.

 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.

2021 movie reviews