Trust is essential to life. You have to trust your devices will work. You have to trust the information you absorb. And you have to trust that those around you have your best interests at heart. When you are a wheelchair-bound home-schooled teenage girl who suffers from asthma and type 1 diabetes, trust is very high on your life needs. So, what happens when that trust begins to wear away?
Run, starring Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story) and introducing Kiera Allen, has a great premise right from the get go. What if you couldn’t trust the person you were entirely dependent on? Chloe (Allen) is in many ways a typical teenage girl, waiting to hear if her application to her chosen college has been successful. However, due to her premature birth causing a variety of chronic health problems, not least being wheelchair-bound, she relies on her mother (Paulson) to home-school her and supply her medications.
Things take a turn when Chloe tries to sneak some candy from a temporarily unguarded grocery shop only to discover that there are new pills prescribed to her mother but being given to her. With an unreliable internet connection, no mobile phone, and an inability to get out of the house, Chloe finds it increasingly hard to investigate what is going on.
This makes for an excellent Cat and Mouse setup. The first half of the movie enjoys a slow ratcheting of tension where we are privy to seeing a little more than Chloe does, but the air of plausibility remains. Paulson has shown multiple times in American Horror Story that she can emanate an air of restraint in the face, yet with a slightly too long held glance can convey a multitude of calculations behind the eyes.
This pairs deliciously with Allen’s increasingly frantic efforts to get around the woman in charge of every aspect of her life. Allen’s performance is given an extra dose of reality as she herself is wheelchair-bound in real life. It’s heart in the mouth stuff as she tries to navigate a house with locked doors and locked stairlifts, especially as she also has asthma and diabetes to contend with.
Very few other characters come in to Run and the majority of the movie is set in the one house which makes for a wonderfully claustrophobic feel. Unfortunately, once the final act gets underway and the scope of settings and events broadens, much of what made Run a nail-biter gets lost. The shift into action territory and some rather extreme character actions err too much on the side of larger-than-life dramatics, undermining the core draw that came before.
With the house playing such a large part of the story it would have been more satisfying to conclude the narrative there. The shift in the final act by no means ruins the film but sadly keeps it from truly taking ownership of its own power. In any event, Run is a compact belter of a movie with a push-you-pull-me central character dynamic from two actors who spark all throughout the run time. On this evidence, Kiera Allen has a bright future ahead of her and, for 89 minutes, Run will hook your brain from the first crack of the starter’s pistol.
Words by Mike Record