REVIEW: ‘Run’ Isn’t What You Expect

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Run

Mothers are supposed to love us, care for us, and have our best interests at heart. But in horror, motherhood is never the stereotypical glowing connection. No. In horror, it distorts and uses that love to inflict terror and trauma. But it isn’t just fictional, in the infamous case of Gypsy Rose Blanchardher mother was her abuser. Her mother made Gypsy sick to gain attention and control. And this true crime case is the basis for Run, a Hulu Original thriller directed by Aneesh Chaganty and written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian.

In Run, never being able to escape her mother’s love isn’t a blessing for Chloe (Kiera Allen). Her mother’s love and control are a looming threat. As the film opens and develops over the course of the first act, it’s clear that there’s something unnatural, even sinister about the relationship between Chloe and her mom, Diane (Sarah Paulson). Diane has raised her daughter in total isolation, controlling every move she’s made since birth. She home schools Chloe, locks her from the internet and the phone, treating her like a bird in a cage – and not even a gilded one. But when Chloe turns 18 and awaits letters from colleges that she’s applied to, she begins to question her mother’s love. In truth, there are secrets that Chloe’s only beginning to grasp.

We know the premise of the film from the jump. Run has been marketed as a film about an obsessed mom who is at worst, making her daughter sick, and at best taking advantage of her daughter’s disabilities to keep her home. Those familiar with the Gypsy Blanchard case, know what to expect, and for those who aren’t, Chaganty and Ohanian map out the film by defining illnesses at the beginning of the film with text on the screen. As we watch Chloe move through her morning routine that showcases the normalcy of her life, everything seems normal. But when her mother is introduced, there is a small hint that Munchhausen’s by proxy may be at play.

That said, Run is less about Chloe’s medical trauma, and all about her struggle to escape her mother and take control of her life. Chloe takes advantage of situations where she is allowed to enter the world and gets creative to use her small means to regain agency, even if her mother has tried to cut her off from everything. With no internet and no access to figure out what her mother is giving her to put in her body, she relies on recently called, 411, and her local pharmacist while ducking out of an outing with her mother to find answers.

Run

While the film is thrilling in its pacing, its theme is sold by its stars: Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen.

Paulson is terrifying in her ability to pull the audience in with sympathy. She is soft and caring and uses that intimacy as a weapon. Paulson engenders a fear through love that is unsettling to watch. Her gaslighting and control are frustrating to watch onscreen as people fall for it. That said, Allen’s performance is breathtaking. She commands the screen, bringing to life Chloe’s intelligence and determination. While she is at a disadvantage due to how her mother has used her disability to trap her and because she is, after all, a child in a world that only listens to mothers, there is never a moment in which she loses hope.

As a character, you root for Chloe and the way she pushes past the barriers her mother has put in place. She stops taking medicine. Engineers a way out of her locked room. She finds a way to get down the stairs blocked by the wheelchair lift that has been ripped apart by her mother, and she keeps fighting just to escape. Allen’s ability to display emotion in silence is one of her strengths. There are moments in the film where Chloe is silent, but you can see on Allen’s face and in her eyes that she is thinking through a problem. And in the film’s final emotional act, she outsmarts her mother as the film’s twist leaves the audience and Chloe reeling. To put it simply, Allen holds her own against the veteran genre actress in every single scene, making the pair phenomenal to watch on screen.

It must also be noted that while other films still refuse to cast disabled actors, Allen is the first wheelchair user in a lead role in 70 years. Yes. It really has been that long. That said, Chloe’s role isn’t tied directly to her disability nor trying to “overcome” it. Instead, she is the heart of a thriller about escaping abuse and finding agency, demanding it.

Overall, Run is a pure thriller. It’s energetic, suspenseful, and Paulson and Allen are forces to be reckoned with. The former terrifies you with her love and the latter pulls you to root for her. While some scenes are tough to watch because of the pain that Chloe throws herself into to escape her mother, it’s a film that you won’t regret watching.

Run is available exclusively on Hulu on November 20, 2020.

Run
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Overall, Run is a pure thriller. It’s energetic, suspenseful, and Paulson and Allen are forces to be reckoned with. The former terrifies you with her love and the latter pulls you to root for her. While some scenes are tough to watch because of the pain that Chloe throws herself into to escape her mother, it’s a film that you won’t regret watching.