Friday, May 17, 2024

You Can’t Run Forever, Starring J.K. Simmons

A sheriff must be pretty bad if his electorate votes to recall him mid-term. In this case, it left two very junior deputies responding to calls on their own. Maybe that would not be so bad on average days, but Miranda is definitely not having a A psycho is chasing her through the woods, killing anyone who crosses his path in Michelle Schumacher’s You Can’t Run Forever, which opens today in New York.

Viewers will get more details later, but Wade Bennett was always pretty jerky, so when he gets triggered, he sets off on a killing spree—and he hasn’t stopped yet. He follows Miranda and her stepdad Eddie from a rest-stop, killing him and chasing her into the forest.

To make matters worse, Miranda was already fragile. She never really recovered from finding her father’s body, after he committed suicide. However, she harbors no anger towards Eddie or her half sister Emily. They were both trying help her heel, but they are understandably distracted by her mother Jenny’s pregnancy. Eventually, Miranda manages to get a message to her mother, but it is all too clear Deputy Morgan and Deputy Dwyer are out of their depths, especially the latter. To be fair, they are also quite busy dealing with all the dead bodies Bennett leaves in his wake.

It should be noted Bennett did not intend to hunt Miranda for sport. He simply wants to kill her, even after she runs into the woods. This is not yet another
Most Dangerous Game. Instead, it is another stalker movie, very much in the tradition of Paronnaud’s Hunted.

There are a lot of contrivances in
Run Forever and some serious credibility issues. Bennett is older than I am, but somehow, he can cover vast distances in the blink of an eye. Admittedly, he is considerably more onery too. Yet, the film works to a surprising extent, because we genuinely care about the family in jeopardy. Schumacher and co-screenwriter Carolyn Carpenter exercise good judgment and wise restraint by not introducing an exploitative abuse subplot. To the contrary, Eddie is a good stepfather, who dies trying to protect Miranda. Consequently, his death has tragic resonance that makes viewers care, perhaps even in spite of themselves.

Schumacher also has J.K. Simmons growling and swaggering his way through the picture as Bennett. He still isn’t as scary as he was in
Whiplash, but he is still seriously sinister. In fact, Schumacher has Simmons in real-life too, since they are married.

Of course, Simmons delivers all his menacing lines with relish and authority. Miranda is necessarily supposed to be moody and withdrawn, but Isabelle Anaya has some nice moments with Kevin Quinn as Todd, an innocent bystander-camper, whose parents get murdered by Bennett. However, the heavyweight drama comes from Fernanda Urrejola as the very pregnant Jenny, who tries to negotiate with Bennett, while he carries her late husband’s cellphone.

You Can’t Run Forever
still lands like the VOD movie that it clearly is. However, it overachieves for what it is, which is very much appreciated. It is not bad, especially if you enjoy watching J.K. Simmons bark and bellow—and who doesn’t? Recommended as a streaming option later, You Can’t Run Forever opens today (5/17) in New York at the Cinema Village.