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Run Movie Review: Sarah Paulson Thriller Effectively Tense

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BY November 18, 2020
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If you saw Searching, the feature debut from director Aneesh Chaganty and his cowriter, Sev Ohanian, then you might have high hopes for their new film. However, the Sarah Paulson-starrer was one of many movies that had to skip theaters this year. Instead, it’ll hit Hulu this week. We’ll tell you if it’s worth your watch in our review of the movie Run.

The Run-Down: What’s It All About

As I mentioned in my Pop Culture Free Time, I’ve just started listening to True Crime Obsessed. Coincidentally, just before I watched Run, I listened to an episode about the HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest. In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s about the story of Gypsy Blanchard, which Hulu dramatized on their own series, The Act. Ever since her infancy, Gypsy’s mother Dee Dee intentionally made the girl sick, even going so far as to force her into a wheelchair.

We find a similar story in Run. As the story begins, Diane Sherman (Paulson) has just given birth to a daughter in distress. Some 17 years later, she and Chloe (Kiera Allen) have settled into a kind of normalcy. Sure, Chloe uses a wheelchair, and Diane treats her for a number of illnesses, but she seems to be quite bright and well-adjusted. She is a little isolated, as she’s homeschooled and living in a somewhat remote home. However, none of it seems to bother Chloe, who seems to take everything in stride.

run movie review image via Hulu

That changes, though, when she innocently paws through a grocery bag, looking for snacks. Instead, she finds a prescription bottle with her mother’s name on it. The pills look the same as the new ones her mom has been giving her, and Chloe is immediately suspicious. This sets off a chain of events that eventually ends up pitting daughter against mother in a nerve-wracking game of cat and mouse.

Run Movie Review

run movie review image via Hulu

It may feel like a spoiler to tell you about the Munchausens. However, you’ll find when you watch the movie that none of the basic plot beats are that surprising. They basically give them away in the trailer, anyway.

Where the movie hides its surprises is in its inventiveness, particularly where Chloe is concerned. She’s not only geographically isolated, for example, but she’s also cut off from the world in a way most kids her age aren’t–she has no internet or cell access. This means that when she wants information, she has to get it in other ways. And this is true of Chloe’s journey as a whole. The story presents her with a problem, and each time, she works her way through it. This includes an especially thrilling sequence on a roof, by the way.

This is all the more impressive because this is Allen’s feature debut, and she’s astounding. The movie asks a lot of her and she never lets it down. Anyone who’s familiar with Paulson’s work knows how good she is, of course. As such, it’s electrifying to watch the two of them play off each other, as the tension increases. At first, for instance, Diane presents as a strict but loving mother. As her daughter starts (and continues) to challenge her, though, her affect changes. She becomes more unsettled and more unsettling.

The problem with this, though, is that it’s a little obvious. It’s also part of some of my objections with the movie. Like, everything goes from 0 to 60 once Chloe sees those pills. But it’s hard to buy that that was the first slip. I mean, there wasn’t anything else dubious over the past near two decades? We don’t know, since we learn so little about this woman and this girl, beyond where and how they are now.

But that’s a relatively small quibble with a movie like this. So if you’re able to suspend your disbelief for little moments like that, then you’ll likely enjoy the ride. Run premieres on Hulu on November 20. You can see the trailer below.

And you can share your thoughts about it with us in the comments or on our social media.

featured image via Hulu

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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