Written by: Aneesh Chaganty & Sev Ohanian
Starring: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen, Pat Healy, Sara Sohn
With a host of untrustworthy people out in the world, at the very least a person should be able to trust their parents to properly take care of them. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with having good parents and the mother in Run makes the case for one of the worst to ever exist. Incredibly thrilling in its presentation and reveals, this film allows an established actor to have fun and introduces us to a new talent.
Diane Sherman (Sarah Paulson) cares deeply for her daughter by always providing the proper care and medication to a paraplegic and diabetic daughter, Chloe (Kiera Allen). With her ready to go to college, Chloe notices her mother giving her a new pill and begins to discover that the care she has been receiving has more sinister underpinnings.
The lead up to the events happening in Run paints the picture of a typical suburban mother and daughter dynamic. Chloe is ready to go to college and she hopes to get accepted to the University of Washington. With Diane being a single mother and Chloe being her only child, her opening scene has such a loving presence to it. She appears to be in a session with other parents sharing they’re not ready for their precious children to move on to collegiate life. While the others express melancholy, Diane has all the confidence in the world her daughter will succeed, which appears to be a sweet moment, but we learn she has quite a different perspective with how she speaks on this.
Chloe seemingly lives an adequate life with all of the support she needs for her academic and medical needs. Receiving this strange pill given to her by her mother plants the seed for something fishy going on and the more she researches, the more distressing the situation gets. One of the more illuminating aspects of Run comes from Chloe having to find herself in a high-stress situation without having the ability to walk. She has lived with this disability for a while, but this film demonstrates just how inaccessible the world can be for someone with a physical disability. Chloe gets presented with situations she’s accustomed to in life but for someone privileged enough to never have to deal with these circumstances, they truly stick out.
Thrilling as can be, this film establishes some wonderful shots that can chill your bones and co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty heavily impresses with how he constructs the film. Most of it takes place inside the house but he establishes the isolation one can feel inside their own home. Suddenly a place she has called home for her entire life loses its safe feeling and now becomes a prison she desperately needs to escape due to the horrific circumstances on display. Chaganty establishes all of the obstacles in Chloe’s way to display the difficulty ahead of her and the perseverance she needs to show in order to survive.
At times, the film does follow the tropes of its genre with different sequences playing out exactly how I thought it would, much like a scene where Chloe finds refuge with a character, even with it being shortsighted. Anyone who watches it can point out exactly what would transpire. Additionally, there’s an expository scene that gives some pretty vital information but some of it just does not make sense to be in the place where Chloe finds it. The knowledge she gains has plenty of importance but its placement lacks any real logic other than for the audience to confirm the fears we had about the relationship between this mother and her daughter.
As a two-hander, Sarah Paulson receives another opportunity to present herself as a sweet person but also has some underlying viciousness to her. She has found plenty of success in doing so with American Horror Story but she takes this on in a feature film and wonderfully maintains the same demeanor but uses her actions to tell a different story. At no point does she ever really change in character, which makes her endlessly interesting. The true star, however, proved to be Kiera Allen, who receives most of the screen time and has to deal with the anguish of this character. She has the scenes where she reacts to some heinous news and revelations and presents it with a face I would also use in those circumstances. She seamlessly succeeds in this role as the audience goes with her for this entirely strange and traumatizing experience.
Run provides the thrills it promises with its premise and outlines how mothering can get downright scary when taking in all of the context of this story. Thoroughly satisfying with some expected turns but plenty of surprising ones to remain engaging for the entirety of its runtime. One anyone can enjoy if they want a good thrill and a satisfying conclusion.