Oh this one is fun. It's very, very fun.
If you like mysteries with a sick twist and characters that repulse, "Run" is not one to miss, thanks in large part to the always enjoyable Sarah Paulson who not only commits to every character she portrays, but grants the audience permission to believe in them as well. Paulson also has the ability that few others possess to play the straight character with convincing empathy, but also the demented one with stone cold abomination.
In this case, Diane Sherman is quite the latter. She is the sole caregiver for her 18-year-old daughter Chloe (Kiera Allen), who has a litany of ailments stemming from her premature birth, the obvious one being that she's bound to a wheelchair. She also has asthma and diabetes, and her daily routine includes a handful of pills and breathing exercises. They live outside a small town in rural Washington where Diane homeschools Chloe who awaits, like any high school senior, college acceptance letters, namely from her dream school, UW.
Though they live in isolation and away from the fray of society, Chloe goes into town on the rare occasion there's a film she wants to catch in theaters, and her mother will pick up her medications from the pharmacy. Chloe is smart and curious. Her imagination and interest in how things work fill her days. Life is seemingly good, normal and, with the help of modern medicine, healthy. Until, on one such ordinary day, Chloe finds something that doesn't make sense, a prescription bottle with her mother's name on it, filled with little green pills that she herself has been taking with her daily pill allotment.
"Run", unlike other thrillers that shove the reveal in your face, allows the mystery to settle in and the suspicion to creep ever so slowly over Chloe and the audience at large. We marinate in the juiciest, briniest details and soak up the nail-biting, will-she-make-it moments. Although it never feels rushed, the action quickly, but we're ready for it.
When she asks her mother about the inconsistency, Diane deflects and then attempts to cover it up. The discovery nags at Chloe. Something is amiss, a realization that leads her down a treacherous path of secrets and lies and opens her eyes to the strangeness of their lifestyle. Chloe must not only find a way to the truth in a world her mother has built for her, but overcome the obstacles she faces every day. Her disabilities may hinder her, but they certainly do not define her, nor do they keep her from fighting for herself. Chloe takes her health and her life into her own hands, even if that means tearing it from the cold grips of mommy dearest.
Chloe is a teenager with a disability in the film, and is actually portrayed by an actress who uses a wheelchair in real life. Not only does representation matter, but Allen's strong performance reinforces the (obvious) fact that people with disabilities should be given opportunities to represent their community. There is certainly an added layer of believability because of her familiarity and capabilities with the chair. Allen, a relative newcomer, holds her own opposite Paulson, turning the film into a two-woman show, one that sees Chloe grow into her strengths and Diane into the mother of nightmares. Paulson is always eye candy in roles that require emotional depth and multidimensional personality, and in "Run", she is the filet mignon of thriller leading ladies. The film is elevated because of her.
In his second feature film, co-writer and director Aneesh Chaganty has the eye and ear for suspense. He knows how to leave the audience hanging and holding their breath for the next revelation. He did it with his feature directorial debut, "Searching", a thriller about a father's search for his missing daughter told exclusively via recordings from her computer. With the entire world at his disposal this time, he chooses to keep it insular, set mainly in a modest two-story house, away from civilization and other people.
The film is 90 minutes of unmitigated suspense, a psychological thrill ride until the very end, but perhaps the true heart-pounding moments aren't loud and knife-wielding. Chaganty, with the help of his leading ladies, instill unease in even the most mundane sequences, inspired by a look or an errant cutaway shot. The wheelchair is an obstacle for Chloe, but it is not a cage. She is a strong and capable protagonist, and Paulson, a joy to watch in a sinister role.
"Run" is streaming now on Hulu.