Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Starring: Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen
Run is a chilling watch on many levels.
My luck in horror movies over the past few years has not been on my side; as we have been surrounded by recent masterpieces such as Parasite, Get Out, and Hush.
I saw Ouija: Origin of Evil in cinemas… it was not the best thing I’ve ever seen.
Too often horror movies rely on momentary jump-scares and cheap paranormal twists.
I was late to the party with the real milestones in the horror genre but I’m happy to say that I’m fairly caught up now.
When I watched Aneesh Chaganty’s Run as soon as it was available on Netflix, I had finally watched a brilliant horror movie at the most opportune moment.
I looked up the reviews to see what other writers like myself thought of it, and I was bitterly disappointed.
Firstly, there weren’t many reviews around; secondly, all I saw was the observation that Run was eerily similar to Rob Reiner’s Misery.
All over Twitter, I saw the same comparison between the two films.
While they are relatively similar, I want to make it clear that Run is an excellent film in its own rights and we shouldn’t get overenthusiastic with the parallel drawing.
I completely get what the similarities are.
Stephen King’s Misery story is singed into our cultural consciousness, even if we haven’t read the book or watched the adaptation.
The idea of the obsessive superfan imprisoning her favourite author until he brings a character in his book series back to life is haunting.
Much like Gerald’s Game, you watch in complete despair while you theorise with your friends what you would do, whether it could actually happen, and devising impossible escape plans that you can’t believe they didn’t think of.
Not to mention the unforgettable performance of Kathy Bates as the deranged kidnapper.
Run is Not The Same Cock-A-Doody Movie!
Chaganty definitely has the hostage situation in common with Reiner and the insane power dynamic between hostage and kidnapper.
There is room for sympathy for both of the villainesses as their lives have both been stricken with tragedy (to varying extents, of course).
However, that is where the source material starts to run dry.
As soon as we get into the specifics and consider the motivations of the villains and the position of the victims, the commonalities become more and more irrelevant.
There is a tendency in all branches of entertainment for viewers and journalists alike to compare women too readily.
How many times has an up-and-coming female celebrity been given some slapdash label which associates them with the nearest superstar in her lane?
How many female singers are the new Amy Winehouse when they really just have a British accent?
How many times has a film with a woman’s face on the poster been carelessly flung on the short end of ‘if you liked… then watch this!’ lists?
Standard Nightmare Fuel Vs. Complex Characters
Oftentimes it’s helpful for publicity to associate new media with classics that came before it, but we have to avoid implying that these works are overly derivative of its predecessors.
Run has elements in common with Misery, but the motivations of Diane Sherman (performed masterfully by the horror hound, Sarah Paulson) are so much more harrowing than those of Paul Sheldon’s captor, Annie Wilkes.
Annie Wilkes has lived an unfair life and feels that something she loves has been taken away from her and is going to extreme lengths (with the help of abominable fate) to bring that dead character back.
Dianne Sherman’s turmoil is absolutely incomprehensible, the promise of motherhood was in front of her and the idea of that promise being broken is something most people will never be able to imagine.
Her daughter, Chloe Sherman (wonderfully portrayed by Kiera Allen), doesn’t even know what has been robbed of her.
Every part of her life has been a lie and she has been Dianne’s hostage her entire life.
Paul Sheldon was yanked from his life of celebrity and safety in a tragic turn of events.
What Chloe Sherman thought was safe and normal in her life was revealed to be an elaborate ruse, the exact same environment slowly turns into a hostage situation.
Other than both of the victims being kept hostage, they don’t have much more in common, and the films are not the same.
More in Chaganty’s Basement after Run?
Chaganty achieved an incredibly nuanced result in Run.
Dianne Sherman continues to care for Chloe and keeps up the same routine until about halfway through the film.
However, her daughter’s knowledge that something is wrong and her new reactions to her mother’s caution is absolutely spellbinding.
It was the epitome of ‘nothing has changed, but everything has changed.’
Just one seed of suspicion was enough to reveal years of deception.
Chloe Sherman underwent decades of manipulation and secrecy in the house where she had to put all of her trust and confidence.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like Misery in the slightest.
When interviewed by Forbes, Chaganty even named Misery as one of his “hardcore references”, but I think that is where we can safely draw the line.
The two can have aspects in common without one being solely derivative of the other.
A new film of a slightly larger budget is currently at the writing stage, and hopefully, next time, we will recognise the film on its own merit rather than slotting a square peg into a round hole.
What do you make of this review of Run?
Will you be watching the film on Netflix?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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