Starring: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen, Pat Healy
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Running Time: 90 mins
Run is an American film about a teenager homeschooled by her mother who begins to suspect that she is being lied to by the very person who claims to be taking best care of her.
While there are times that Run can feel like it pushes the boundaries of crazy just a tad too much, the movie counts on sharp pacing, gripping drama and above all two spectacular lead performances to deliver a thoroughly exciting watch throughout.
It may be short, but Run has all the hallmarks of a classic cult horror, with a simple premise that opens up a world of paranoia and tension, as we follow a girl’s world collapsing around her when she begins to feel as if her mother isn’t taking care of her, but keeping her prisoner.
The main reason that Run works so well is without doubt the performances from Kiera Allen and Sarah Paulson. As the teenager trying to make sense of her situation, Allen is a hugely likable and intelligent lead who you really do root for to end up in the best way possible.
Her performance makes an enormous difference to how exciting the film is, as the fact that you genuinely care for her and are willing her on throughout means that things feel a whole lot scarier for you too when they’re on edge.
And one of the big reasons that Run actually serves up some pretty frightening moments is Sarah Paulson’s fantastic performance as the mother. While not necessarily as emotionally distressing as Bette Davis in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, Paulson’s increasingly haggard turn here plays into the film’s core unpredictability brilliantly.
An intimidating presence throughout, Paulson is a menacing villain to Allen’s hero, and her intensity on screen makes her a genuinely frightening person to watch at times, with her insistence that she’s doing the best for her daughter really getting under your skin as the film becomes more and more insane.
Admittedly, there are times when her character does things that are so ‘out there’ that it undermines what could have been the film’s main strength, a sense of real ambiguity and as such palpable paranoia.
And that’s where my main criticism of Run comes in, that it doesn’t do enough to leave you uncertain of what’s actually going on. From the start, it’s almost obvious what the resolution of the film is going to be, and it takes away from the mind-bending paranoia that Kiera Allen’s character is feeling about whether her mother really is who she says.
That undermines what could have been another gripping level of drama and tension, ultimately making Run a fun, albeit never quite exhilarating thriller. Still, with great performances, sharp pacing and a top story, it’s a genuinely exciting watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.