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Run

The decision to craft a thriller featuring a minimalist cast is always a gamble. By focusing on a small handful of characters, this type of film relies on storytelling, direction, and the performances of a select few in the hopes of ramping up the tension and holding the viewer’s attention. The argument can be made that this is the goal of any movie, but when there aren’t many characters gracing the screen, the margin of error shrinks dramatically. While there is plenty to be said for bombastic ensemble productions like THE AVENGERS, I’m often more impressed when a film like EX MACHINA can feature three main characters and little more.

Hulu’s latest original film RUN stars Sarah Paulson (AMERICAN HORROR STORY, AN AMERICAN CRIME) and dynamic newcomer Kiera Allen as a mother and daughter who share an incredible bond. After starting life prematurely, Chloe Sherman (Allen) has endured a myriad of medical afflictions. Bound to a wheelchair, she has found a way to overcome hemochromatosis, diabetes, asthma, and a heart arrhythmia and has her eyes set on college. Because of the constant care her mother Diane (Paulson) needs to provide, Chloe has been homeschooled her entire life. Displaying a great deal of intelligence and ingenuity, she has her heart set on leaving home and attending the University of Washington. Each day she ecstatically waits for the mailman’s arrival, hoping that today will be the day her dreams come true. Diane promises to let Chloe know the second anything arrives, and urges patience as the days march steadily onward.

Chloe and Diane appear to have a healthy, loving relationship. Diane is encouraging and supportive, doting on her daughter and assisting whenever she is needed. She appears to put Chloe’s needs above her own, and will seemingly do anything to keep Chloe safe, happy, and feeling loved.

While there are a number of minor characters and performers who make fleeting appearances in RUN, the majority of the film is set amidst the confines of Chloe and Diane’s home. Though Diane appears to have devoted her life to keeping Chloe safe and happy, Chloe begins to have suspicions that her mother possesses sinister secrets that lurk beneath her polished veneer. As she begins to tentatively poke and prod, Diane subtly seems aware that something isn’t right. While she has seemingly valid explanations for questionable situations that arise, Chloe becomes steadily more convinced that something nefarious is afoot.

RUN relies on a number of typical thriller tropes, but they are executed in a way that entices and entertains. Co-written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian and directed by Chaganty, it mashes up elements of Stephen King, Hitchcock, MOMMY DEAREST and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE. It delivers a number of nail-biting sequences whose absurdity can be gleefully overlooked. This is, without question, the result of the performances by Paulson and Allen, who makes her feature film debut. As Diane becomes increasingly unhinged, Chloe grows evermore astute and resilient. Allen, who is afflicted by a disability herself, and has been using a wheelchair for a number of years, makes the most of her opportunity. As Paulson effectively projects a panicked descent into madness, Allen captures the strong, defiant, brilliant, and resourceful nature of the tortured Chloe. Though the whole cat-and-mouse routine has been done countless times before, when executed properly, it can be delightfully effective. That is certainly the case here. RUN can be over-the-top at times, and if you get bogged down by trivialities like logic and disbelief then this may not be for you. But, if you were engaged by the likes of Annie Wilkes in MISERY, then you’ll likely find yourself engrossed here. Predictable at times yet shockingly original in others, RUN is a brisky and breezy thriller that will grab your attention until the very last frame.

RUN: GRADE B

RATED: PG-13
RUN TIME: 1h 30min
GENRE: Thriller, Horror, Mystery
STARRING: Sarah Paulson, Chloe Sherman
DIRECTORS: Aneesh Chaganty
WRITERS: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian

Now streaming on Hulu

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.