Finding someone with a unique voice in an overcrowded and overdone genre like thrillers is hard, but “Run” is the movie that places Aneesh Chaganty on that list. Fresh off his breakout hit “Searching”, Chaganty’s newest delivers on everything you want from a tension-building thriller; it has great performances, writing, direction, and above all, a novel idea that is almost executed to perfection. Its because it is so great that a few nitpicks from act one irked me a bit more than they otherwise would and some narrative decisions feel like they could have been set up better, but even then, the movie makes up for all these inconsistencies with a fantastic experience I can’t recommend enough.
“Run” is the story of Chloe Sherman who begins to suspect her mom is keeping a secret from her; what complicates things for this homeschooled teen is that she is paralyzed from the waist down and lives in a remote house with only her mom as a caregiver. First off, this movie lives or dies depending on the lead actors work; Kiera Allen who plays Chloe and Sarah Paulson who plays her mom Diane. Kiera Allen is an actual wheelchair user and this is also her acting debut for a feature-length film and she absolutely steals the show; she walks the fine line of making her character endearing and confident, transitioning between states without the audience ever doubting her emotions or capabilities to do so. Sarah Paulson is, as usually, great and this movie allowed her to carry the entertainment value of the movie in a way I haven’t seen her do previously and she handled it brilliantly.
Beyond the acting, Chaganty shows his range as a director with a great showcase of how to do visual storytelling and be entertaining at the same time. There are lots of great “set-piece” moments where the camera movement and characters emphasize the ‘entertainment’ value of the scenes and there are lots of subtle tricks that help the audience relate with Chloe, such as using lower camera angles to show the world from Chloe’s point of view.
That is why the movie is allowed to work its charm on the audience, but the real standout here is the efficiency of the storytelling; this is a movie that is an hour and a half long and it wastes no frame in telling this deeply impactful and thrilling story. Even the very first scene works on so many levels in foreshadowing specific events later on, setting up important details that will allow the twists to be satisfying without requiring extra scenes or unnecessary dialogue. Chloe and Diane are set up within minutes and their relationship becomes the focus of the movie right after that, which allows the movie to keep its brisk pace and deliver a satisfying and deeply engaging exploration of these two characters and their disturbing relationship. Furthermore, the dialogue in this movie is beyond impressive; this sounds and is delivered in a seemingly effortless way from the get go and the viewer is immediately sold on the characters history with each other and their struggles.
My only issue is what I would consider on many other projects to be nitpicking bullshit, but this is the level of quality that this movie works on and it affected my enjoyment of it slightly; this is also a very mild spoiler warning for those who enjoy knowing absolutely nothing about a movie going into it. Although I spent a paragraph praising “Run” for its efficiency, I feel like the first act of the movie could have used a bit more ‘meat’, particularly setting up the growing mistrust of Chloe for Diane. For example, the set up to this mistrust begins when the mail arrives and Chloe rushes to the door to get it and Diane is already there, where she reminds Chloe that if there is a letter from her (she is waiting for a college application reply) she will give it to her first. Chloe is not happy with that and stares at Diane, when she gives in and lets her check the mail (there is nothing for her). This is supposed to set up that Chloe isn’t entirely trusting of Diane, but this is too inconspicuous for Diane’s eventual plan, which only hurts the movie when Chloe begins to have obsessive doubts of Diane when she…gives her new pills that were under Diane’s name. Again, usually this is the type of criticism I despise, but in this case, I wasn’t really sold on why this created a level of doubt in Chloe capable of pushing her to the events that follow. There are a few more similarly-sized inconsistencies that normally wouldn’t even register, but due to how tight the movie is, they stick out more.
Apart from that, “Run” is a brilliantly tense, wickedly smart, air-tight thriller that should satisfy all fans of the genre and then some. I absolutely loved how creative and novel it is, but even more than that, how efficient and nearly-perfect the execution of the concept ended up being. I hope we see more from Kiera Allen and other wheel-chair user actors; I hope we see more from Sarah Paulson; I’m excited to see what is next for Chaganty as both of his movies, so far, have been excellent. For now, “Run” is a definite must watch thriller.