Without a doubt, one of my favourite Hollywood career developments of the last decade has been the blossoming of Sarah Paulson into fully fledged spooky queen. She has consistently been the best thing about American Horror Story anthology for years, and her recent work on Netflix’s Ratched follows suit. Arriving just in time to catch the final fleeting vibes of a very dampened 2020 Halloween, I very much looked forward to see what kind of sinister mayhem Paulson could bring to the big screen.
Run tells the story of Chloe Sherman (Kiera Allen), a wheelchair using teenage girl who, from premature birth, has relied on her mother Diane to provide all of the care that she needs for ailments including asthma, a heart defect, diabetes and paralysis. However, as the prospect of college looms and her horizons begin to broaden, Chloe suddenly realises that Diane might not be the responsible care giver she professes to be, but the rather the primary cause of her supposedly permanent ailments.
Here’s the thing. If you are a fan of jumpy thrillers and general true crime, you will be more than familiar with this kind of story and all of the twists and turns that it creates. But equally, if you are fan, then you are also going to be happy to revisit the vibes again and again if they are executed correctly. I’m delighted to report, then, that Run is a tight, tense, edge of the seat thriller that ticks every single box one can think of for this special kind of sub genre.
One of the things I love the most about this movie is that it doesn’t waste a single second of screen time. I’ve got absolutely no patience for a scary, pulpy, jump scare romp that wants to take its time and be self indulgent along the way. Run throws you in at the deep end and doesn’t give a moment’s rest until the credits roll, the pace is great and the tension created is genuinely stressful, it’s a truly winning combination. From shades of Misery to What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? to more obvious allusions to the real life case of Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard, the film evokes a whole bunch of references and properties that are going to appeal to a lot viewers, myself very much included.
One particular thing that Run did was make me miss the cinema so flipping much. To have been able to watch this thriller with a full audience would have been a joy, and that is testament to its truly nail biting tension. Is it over the top? Sure. Does that make it an excellent popcorn movie to watch with friends from behind cushions and under duvets, absolutely!
Like I said in the intro, we all know what Sarah Paulson can do with this kind of unhinged, sinister material, and she definitely doesn’t disappoint in Run. As Diane, Paulson is worryingly saccharine and hovering, before progressing to full on wild and deranged as the chaos of the plot escalates. She is the kind of actress that I would watch in anything, as evidence by some of the later, poorer seasons of American Horror Story that I have sat through just to enjoy her contributions! For so long Paulson has been the supporting character in her film appearances, so as a fan it is awesome to see her taking more centre stage on the big screen.
In her feature film debut, Keira Allen is absolutely brilliant as Chloe. She proves to be the standout performer even with a scene partner as seasoned and established as Sarah Paulson, their tense dynamic is thrilling to experience. A wheelchair user in real life, the physical authenticity (not to mention real acting chops) from Allen is next level, and it makes such a huge difference in the more action orientated parts of the narrative. It’s really that simple, Hollywood. You cast someone who has lived crucial, defining aspects of the character. It’s something that hampered by enjoyment of the otherwise decent Come As You Are recently. The difference it makes, both in terms of on screen physicality and opportunities for differently abled performers, is immeasurable, even in a pulpy jump scare fest like this!
Overall, Run was a really pleasant surprise for me during a time when I wanted something that I could excite me in a popcorn kind of way without being completely brainless. Genuinely tense, genuinely nail biting, and featuring two excellent central performances from two excellent actresses. If you’re not quite ready to let the Halloween vibes go in favour of Christmas, then get on board!