The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Disability representation in major motion pictures is sparse in Hollywood, and often when we do see it it’s not always the most authentic. Whilst Run is a thriller working with a basic premise, it’s at least presenting a level of genuineness in that its lead actress, Kiera Allen (in her film debut), is actually a wheelchair user, and so the respect writer/director Aneesh Chaganty (Searching) has for his subject is amplified even more so. A tale of survival intertwined with a story of abuse wrapped in the guise of a horror movie, Run executes its Misery-adjacent narrative with precision, occasional dark humour, and genuine terror.
Similar to how he flipped the “found footage” genre into something of investing value with the computer-screen thriller Searching, director Aneesh Chaganty builds a tense and very real world out of Run’s rather claustrophobic environment. There’s a paranoia to the film that is consistently uncomfortable, and whilst Chaganty never makes it a mystery regarding Sarah Paulson’s character’s unhinged mental state, he’s all too aware of when to pull the rug out and when to simply rearrange his setting.
Whilst Chaganty knows how to embellish his story and characters, he’s still very much working with a tried and true premise. Allen’s wheelchair-bound teenager Chloe is the film’s emotional core - Run making it a point to highlight her evident capabilities in spite of her disability - leaving her mother (Paulson’s Diane) to represent what an ailment can actually do in harming your general state. There’s a clear protagonist/antagonist relationship between the two, and we wait with anticipation for Diane to reveal just why she’s as much of a helicopter parent to Chloe as she is, ultimately culminating in a confrontation that’s both unnerving and incredibly emotional.
RUN Executes Its Narrative With Precision
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Though there’s always a sense of heightened enhancement regarding Sarah Paulson’s delivery - she’d give Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes a run for her money - the actress knows how to drive believability out of the camp. There’s an obvious love behind her madness, and it’s because she only wants what’s best for her daughter which makes her maniacal switch that much more unsettling. Paulson’s hysteria is wonderfully offset by Kiera Allen’s gradual descent towards independence, the actress proving to be a relatable teenage character and reluctant hero. Very much a two woman show between Paulson and Allen, Run’s simplistic nature is made all the more intricate thanks to their dedication.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Very much a film that utilises silence and its thematic score in equal measure, Run is amplified that much more thanks to its musical accompaniment - or lack thereof.
The film goes for a very natural aesthetic in the way it presents its characters and, despite its horrific nature, is quite a bloodless affair, relying more so on the atmosphere to create any sense of discomfort. Next to Paulson and Allen, their house acts as its own character as Chloe starts to realise the environment she thought was safe is anything but, with Diane’s all-seeing eye gradually slipping in its authority as her daughter claims back her autonomy.
Run is hardly reinventing the wheel, but it doesn’t really need to in order to succeed. Chaganty has, once again, created a stellar thriller high on entertainment value whilst injecting enough of an emotional undercurrent for it to feel fresher than it ultimately is. A committed Paulson and a killer debut from Allen, Run grabs its premise with both hands and, well, runs away with it.
RUN Premieres on HULU (11.20.20)