Relentlessly over the top and predictable, yet always entertaining, Run will likely not make it onto anyone’s “Best of the Year” lists, but it could very well scratch the itch for a mindless thriller that’s particularly suited to these pandemic times.
The latest from director Aneesh Chaganty (Searching) opens with new mom Diane Sherman (Sarah Paulson, careening between tearily tragic and cooly, uncannily flat) asking doctors whether her premature child is going to live. Things look dire, but a few scenes and 17 years later, we meet lovable daughter Chloe (emotive newcomer Kiera Allen), who’s survived, albeit with a slew of serious medical issues that have left her lower body paralyzed, heartbeat irregular, nausea constant and skin rashy.
It doesn’t take long to realize that something is amiss with their idyllic mother-daughter relationship. Diane is mom, best friend and teacher to her brainy, optimistic daughter. She home-schools her in advanced courses, doles out the many medicines she takes daily and buddies up to take her to movies in their slightly depressing small town. Chloe is appreciative but ready to take flight and get on to the next phase of her life: college. We get the sense that any school would be lucky to have her, but the acceptance letters aren’t coming. Then again, her mother always seems to get to the mail first. Chloe’s suspicions — much like her medications — begin to mount.
We already know where this is going. Chloe’s steady discoveries of her mother’s deadly machinations make the film a fun (if nerve-wracking) ride as we root for her to escape her unhinged jailer. The plot also throws a few silly but satisfying curveballs our way that demonize Diane even further, making her an effective and loathsome villain.
At a time when many of us feel a bit like Chloe as we’re trapped by the COVID-19 pandemic — a monster even more insidious and relentless than Diane — Run offers us the vicarious release that comes from escaping the things that have hurt us. And in an all-too-rare but welcome wrinkle — both in movies and real life — in which the child is believed over the parent, Chloe receives help from a community she never even knew she had access to, including a kind mailman, a nurse who stops to listen to her and a random guy on the phone.
Still, anyone who watches Lifetime or the True Crime Network can guess each plot point — but if it were to pop up when I wandered by the TV with nothing else to do, I’d grab a pint of ice cream, sit down and watch until the end.
Available to stream starting Nov. 20