For his follow-up to 2018’s Searching, Aneesh Chaganty is once again exploring the challenges of raising teenage children in his latest film, Run, but this time, it’s the parental figure that is behind the central conflict to the story. With shades of Stephen King (think Misery and Carrie, minus the telekinesis) bubbling just below its surface, Run is a taut and highly suspenseful thriller that often zigs when you’re expecting it to zag, resulting in an expertly crafted, nerve-shredding psychological thriller that may tread some familiar narrative territory, but manages to thwart any expectations you may have about what to expect.
In Run, Sarah Paulson plays Diane, a mother who has devoted the last 17 years of her life to being the sole provider and caregiver to her daughter, Chloe (Kiera Allen), who has a myriad of special needs that require constant attention and keeps her tucked away from the world. Chloe yearns for her freedom, though, and is hopeful that soon enough she’ll be headed to college once she graduates from home school. But after the teen discovers that one of her pills isn’t what she thinks it is, Chloe begins to suspect that her mom’s intentions aren’t exactly in her best interest, and Diane wonders if her inquisitive daughter might be close to catching on to the truth about what she’s been up to all these years.
For Run, Chaganty co-writes the script alongside Sev Ohanian (who he previously collaborated with on Searching), and once again, this screenwriting duo has struck gold with their latest story, as the reason the film works as well as it does is due to how they’re able to leave cinematic breadcrumbs throughout, so that we know as viewers that we’re looking for something to be amiss, we just don’t know what until Run hits its wonderfully audacious climax that feels like it is hearkening back to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Run also features a handful of tension-fueled set pieces that certainly escalated my heart rate a few times and had me nervously frittering away as well. There was one sequence in particular that felt highly innovative, featuring the wheelchair-bound Chloe doing her damnedest to break out of her second story bedroom while Diane was away from the house, and her character demonstrating some MacGyver-esque abilities that were truly impressive, yet felt wholly grounded in reality.
Also, in a day and age when representation has been a huge part of the ongoing discussions regarding Hollywood, I think Chaganty’s decision to use a wheelchair-bound actress to portray a character in a wheelchair was not only something that I really appreciated on a personal level, but it also introduced me to this newbie talent in Allen, who more than holds her own against Paulson throughout Run, which is no easy feat by any means. The cat and mouse game that unfolds between this duo of strong-willed women is often strikingly calculated on the page, and brilliantly brought to life by two talents who easily hold command over the screen whenever they appear.
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite actors, Pat Healy, also appears in Run as a kindly mailman whose daily interactions with Chloe are one of the highlights of her day, as he’s the only means of outside contact for a good portion of the film.
While the story seems to escalate very rapidly out of nowhere, almost in conflict to the even-keeled pacing that preceded it, Run is a surprising thrill ride that effectively proves that no one in this world will love you like your mother does—and in the case of Chaganty’s latest, it’s a truism that proves to be both dangerous and potentially lethal.
Movie Score: 4/5
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Author: Heather Wixson