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Review: World Premiere of Horror-Thriller ‘Run’ at Nightstream Film Festival



Review: World Premiere of Horror-Thriller 'Run' at Nightstream Film Festival

Run is a horror-thriller about an isolated teenager with a controlling mother. Directed by Aneesh Chaganty, and co-written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, Run had its world premiere at Nightstreama virtual, collective genre film festival.

Run is perfectly edited—the set-up is quick, as soon as it begins, we’re deep into the story. Chloe Sherman (Kiera Allen) lives with her overprotective mother, Diane (Sarah Paulson). Chloe is non-abled and wheelchair-using, and she has several health conditions. She vomits every morning and has an immunological rash across her back. Her mother takes care of her, and they have a loving relationship. Or do they?

Perhaps not; she’s homeschooled and her mother withholds pets, friends, the internet, and a cell phone. Since Chloe has diabetes, her mother controls her diet but in a way that feels invasive. Feeling deprived, Chloe steals chocolates from a shopping bag when she’s alone, where she makes a startling discovery: Her mother’s name is on the bottle of one of her prescriptions, and when she asks her mother about it, Diane lies.

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Chloe is confused about why her mother would lie, and she wonders if it’s a misunderstanding, but what she discovers is shocking. Her mother has been giving her ‘fake’ medications, dangerous ones, which means her mother suffers from (what was formerly known) as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. A condition where a person injures those in their care—to receive attention from people who feel sorry for them or admire them for taking care of a sick child.

Munchausen by proxy is no longer the correct name for the condition—it’s now called “Factitious disorder imposed on another.” It’s theorized that people who suffer from it inflict abuse so that they can play the role of martyr or ‘loving parent’ to the victim. Because they have a warped need to feel loved, needed, and esteemed or a desire to control another person.

In The Sixth Sense, there was a sub-plot of a little girl ghost whose mother put Lysol in her soup, which eventually killed her. At the wake, the mother grieves, lapping up condolences from well-wishers, until it’s revealed (through a ghostly intervention) that the mother is a child abuser. In Gillian Flynn’s novel Sharp Objects, the mother suffered from the condition as well. She, too, murders her daughter with poison. She repeats this pattern with her third daughter, but the girl accepts the ‘treatments’ because she wants her mother’s love—and for a more disturbing reason—it gives her control over her mother.

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Run reminded me of Flowers in the Attic and the true-crime case of Dee Dee Blanchard. But Chloe has a chance to save herself. She tries to escape, but she has to out-think her mother. It’s thrilling to watch her pit her mind against Diane because Chloe is intelligent. Diane didn’t anticipate how resourceful her daughter might be. She’s also strong—we see her fall, crawl, and breakthrough windows, fighting for her freedom.

Kiera Allen does an incredible job as Chloe. Allen is a non-abled performer, and she brings a level of depth to her character, rarely seen in performances by abled performers. Watching Allen’s character transition from an abused child to a confident, independent woman is outstanding work. It’s terrific to see Allen and Paulson together on-screen, playing off each other’s talent.

There’s a chilling shot of Diane’s naked, scarred back when she showers that is unexplained. It’s a great choice because it’s horrifying to imagine what happened to Diane as a child. Run is an engaging horror-thriller about mothers and daughters and how abuse may cycle through families.

Run will be released on Hulu on November 20th, in time for Thanksgiving.

Run 2020 Poster