Run (2020) Nov 24, 2020 20:47:03 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Nov 24, 2020 20:47:03 GMT -5
Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty
Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty
Kierra Allen and Sarah Paulson in Run.
Aneesh Chaganty's Searching was not only a compelling thriller, but an inventive one. It defied solely being a gimmick as a film entirely conducted through video-calls and iMessages by evoking tension through common digital happenstance (video streams buffering, texts being deleted before they're sent). It was Hitchcockian in its slickness and stranglehold on the atmosphere, despite that atmosphere largely being comprised of pop-up windows, spreadsheets, and digital news clippings.
Now comes Chaganty's sophomore effort Run, working once again with co-writer Sev Ohanian, which begins with Diane Sherman (Sarah Paulson) in a hospital after giving birth to a severely premature baby. A title card follows, listing the various illnesses the newborn has, including arrhythmia, asthma, and diabetes. Seventeen years later, we see Diane and her daughter live humbly together. Chloe (Kiera Allen) is wheelchair-bound and kept stable with a litany of different medications and physical therapy all while working through her schoolwork — again, provided by her mother. Chloe dreams of going off to college, but her mom has created this carefully controlled bubble-climate insofar that she's not even permitted to sift through the mail for any potential acceptance letters. Compounding her isolation is her mother's strict rules against her even having an iPhone, let alone unlimited internet access.
Normally, Sarah Paulson is the one to steal the show in otherwise run-of-the-mill thrillers. Here, however, her command is threatened by newcomer Kiera Allen (who is disabled in real-life), who gives a fearlessly physical performance. Moreover, she's charismatic in small beats, showing a sense of wry humor while hurrying into a local pharmacy, and convincing in the film's most serious moments. For long stretches of time, it's her and Paulson sharing the screen and both women make the film a worthwhile showcase of acting with limited settings and claustrophobic interiors.
The enemy of Run is the predictability, which is surprising given how engrossing Searching managed to be in style and narrative. Even casual horror fans will likely figure out where this is headed within the first few minutes. When a film is so reliant on revelations, it's not as fun when you're ahead of the curve long before any foresight. The story at hand is far too surface-level. Chaganty and Ohanian don't make an attempt to ground Chloe's disability or the toxic relationship with her mother in reality. It's all played for jolts, which feels disingenuous to a film cognizant enough to cast a disabled actress.
Run is effective in showing that Chaganty knows how to build suspense in lengthy sequences. The best moment is when Chloe has to resort to calling 411, and eventually a total stranger, in order to gather information on a certain medication provided by her mother, due to the lack of internet access on her end. These moments of helplessness are dialed up as Chloe peers out the window to watch her mother tend to her garden, hoping against hope she stays outside long enough for her to get the answers she needs.
Subtle gestures to other films (even Searching) and Stephen King-lore show Chaganty is a devout movie-fan who has fun sprinkling Easter eggs into his own pictures. For a sophomore effort, Run is serviceable fare, I suppose. The burden of a filmmaker starting his directorial career off so strongly with a wickedly involving thriller is it perhaps sets up unrealistic expectations for subsequent projects — especially so soon. Here's hoping a rebound is in order with Chaganty and Ohanian taking all the time they need to continue to fine-tune their undeniable craft.
NOTE: Run is now available to stream on Hulu.
Starring: Kiera Allen, Sarah Paulson, Pat Healy, and Sara Sohn. Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty.