Fact: Monstrous moms make for great movie villains. Also a fact: Sarah Paulson can play the hell out of any role but is particularly adept at transforming into characters whose depravity is hidden behind a sleek veneer. Writer/director Aneesh Chaganty’s Run finds Paulson transformed into a doting mom from hell who’s convinced her actions are in her child’s best interests.
Spoiler alert – they’re not.
Paulson stars as Diane Sherman, a single mother of a teenage daughter who has multiple major medical conditions that require constant attention. Newcomer Kiera Allen plays the daughter, Chloe, a sharp young woman whose dream is to leave home and function independent of her mother at college. Chloe’s a wheelchair user but is determined not to let that – or her many medical conditions – hold her down.
She’s got the brains to make it in college, but as we slip into her story college acceptance letters haven’t been showing up in her mailbox. Every day she waits patiently for her mom to bring in the mail and every day she moves a step closer to resigning herself to the fact she’ll never be able to strike out on her own.
Compounding Chloe’s sense of isolation is the fact her mom doesn’t allow her to own a cell phone or her own computer and can easily limit her access to the internet. Diane controls every aspect of Chloe’s life, using a mother’s love like a tool to beat her daughter emotionally and psychologically into submission. Add in Chloe’s use of a wheelchair to get around the two-story home and there’s no aspect of the teen’s existence that isn’t under her mother’s control.
Their mostly peaceful co-existence comes to a sudden terrifying end when Chloe is forced to accept terrifying truths about her mom. How she handles this disturbing turn of events makes Run incredibly satisfying and thrilling.
Aneesh Chaganty’s Run (not to be confused with the recently canceled series of the same name) proves the filmmaker’s rookie effort – 2018’s critically acclaimed Searching – wasn’t a fluke. Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian’s screenplay plays with our minds, delivering clever, unexpected twists that build up the tension leading into an explosive final act.
Run focuses on just two characters, with the majority of the action taking place in their shared home. What could feel a little claustrophobic doesn’t because of how well-written and developed both characters are and how perfectly they’re played by Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen. Paulson’s fantastic at playing a psycho masquerading as normal and Allen, who uses a wheelchair in real life, is equally terrific as a young woman who uses her intelligence and ingenuity to seek freedom and independence from the oppressive presence of her smothering mom.
Run, premiering on Hulu on November 20, 2020, doesn’t slow walk us into this world of a creepy helicopter mom and her trapped daughter. Once the setup’s been introduced, the tension continuously ratchets up until it finally reveals the most shocking of twists that you will not see coming.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, some violence, terror, and language
Release Date: November 20, 2020
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes