It seems wheelchair using characters are more commonly found in thriller and horror movies, because the sense of confinement creates tension (some examples being The Bone Collector, Monkey Shines, Silver Bullet, and sort of Rear Window). That doesn’t mean those genre filmmakers are bad. Arguably, they deserve credit for seeing the empowering resilience of such figures. However, director-co-screenwriter Aneesh Chaganty went a step further, casting a wheelchair using thesp as a wheelchair using character (for the first time in a major production since The Sign of the Ram in 1948, but thanks for your wokeness, Hollywood). It was intended for theaters, but because this is 2020, Chaganty’s Run debuts today on Hulu instead.
Chloe Sherman lives with asthma, skin sensitivity issues, lower-body paralysis, and an excruciatingly protective mother, Diane Sherman. By applying to college after years of home-schooling, she hopes to get a little distance from Mommie Dearest. Unfortunately, she has yet to hear from any of her potential schools, which instantly makes us suspicious as viewers. Her mother’s squirrely behavior regarding her surprise new proscription also arouses Chloe’s suspicions too. She tries to do a little sleuthing around the house, but it is much more complicated for a young woman who requires a wheelchair and an inhaler.
As Chaganty’s follow-up to Searching (a.k.a. Search, at Sundance), Run proves he has knack for helming thrillers built around rigid constraints that his protags must devise clever ways to circumvent. (He also shows an affinity for one-word titles.) Regardless, this is probably one of the most carefully blocked-out film without a lot of martial art fight scenes, which pays dividends.
Kiera Allen is getting a great deal of justifiable and deserved attention as Chloe. It isn’t just a matter of accuracy in casting. She covers a considerable emotional gamut, but always comes across as grounded and credible. It is also an impressively physical performance.
Ratched, American Gothic, and thirty-seven seasons of American Horror Story. True to form, as Mother Sherman, she is appropriately creepy twitchy and scheming. Genre fans will also take note of Pat Healy briefly but memorably playing against type as Tom, the nice-guy mailman.
There is no denying Run has its lurid aspects (subverting heartwarming notions of motherhood and home & heath), but that is part of the fun. (Run would probably pair up nicely with Mom and Dad.) It can make viewers uncomfortable, but it is tautly suspenseful, because Allen gives us such a compelling rooting interest. Recommended for fans of dark, claustrophobic thrillers, Run starts streaming today (11/20) on Hulu.