Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Writers: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian
Starring: Kiera Allen, Sarah Paulson
Cinematography: Hilary Fife Spera
Editor: Will Merrick
Streaming on: Netflix
At one point in Run, A 17-year-old girl secretly leaves her room at night. She doesn’t have a cell phone. Therefore, she must use the family computer to access the Internet. She makes her way to the living room and turns on the family desktop. The Windows operating system comes to life. She then opens Google to know more about a specific drug. She writes the name of the pill. The results will hold the key. Her every move is carefully and studied so as not to wake her mother, a paranoid single parent. The moment she presses the Enter key, the WiFi signal disappears. The page flashes this sad pixelated dinosaur. Which is to say: a simple search on the Internet becomes a massive task – the tense part in an analog thriller – although Run it seems to be based in 2020. There are good reasons for this low-tech existence, which I will come to later. But this series is probably a veiled ode to director Anes Chaganti’s breakthrough debut, Search: a great “digital thriller” whose premise of a desperate father looking for his missing teenage daughter unfolds entirely on computer and smartphone screens. Needless to say, these were high-end machines from Apple.
Read also: Search, Pulsating clock
Run exists at the opposite end of the connectivity spectrum. In more than one aspect, he is a perverted spiritual brother Search. For starters, the prospects and settings are reversed – the plot revolves around a chronically ill and home-trained teenager (Kiera Allen, as Chloe), who has to circumvent the lack of technology in the personalized house to reveal a dark secret to his mother (Sarah). Paulson, as Diane). Chloe is geographically limited, paralyzed from the waist down and moves in a wheelchair. For starters, mother and daughter are inseparable, by contrast Searcha father-daughter couple who were almost alienated from the incident. It’s almost as if the creators want the audience to know what the crisis looked like before the Internet age – this tonal deception of the 90s lifestyle in today’s America is well woven into the film through Chloe’s protected upbringing and fragile health.
Second, Run it’s not so much the root as how: Chloe’s doubts are confirmed very early in the film and the twist is that there is no twist. The bottom line is that human psychology itself can be more frightening than all imaginary discoveries. Finally, the film doubles as an allegory and an indictment of modern parenting – control disguised as care, lack of identity, constant suffocation, manipulation, and the blurred line between selflessness and selfishness. Searchit also occupied the same social space, except that it was conceived more as a fairy tale with a white bone than as a fairy tale.
The filming of Run – eerie, atmospheric, tense, color-coded – there’s a lot of M. Night Shyamalan for that, even if the writing goes against his story trick. Without any tricks with hands to go back to, the suspense is old-school and physical: a race against time, an escape from the window, a wrong phone call, a hospital bet, a broom closet. The camera decides what to show and hide, and the background score increases the pulse every time Chloe works hard to find something in the house. A healthier character would make things much more direct and boring.
From the very beginning, the viewer is made to believe that something is wrong with the mother. But the structuring is too obvious. The information retained by manufacturers casts a constant shadow over history. Diane’s first shot of anxiously watching her incubated baby in 2002 suddenly end in a way that suggests the rest of the frame will be revealed in the climax. Another shot of Diane stepping into her mysterious basement every night with a popcorn tub is cut off the second her expression begins to change, suggesting that there is much more to this setting than a parent caring for him, and an energetic daughter.
A problem with the film is its insistence on keeping the characters mysterious. I’m not advocating retrospectives, but it really seems that Chloe and her mother are alive only to serve the purpose of this story. For them there is no feeling of Before or After; it’s one thing to cover up the past, it’s another to edit people’s history. For example, why is Diane the way she is? Why is it so easy for Chloe to resist years of worry and suspect dirty play? I suppose the intention is to isolate the two strongly enough to justify the unlikely premise. But it’s hard to shake off the feeling that these characters are behaving exactly as the viewer might think they should. Their relationship is, in fact, far more ambiguous; it can’t be that easy for Chloe to look at Diane differently overnight. The consequence is that the viewer is left with nothing but the detached tension of a survival drama – there is no emotional jet lag, no deeper sense of attachment to a film about dysfunctional people.
Sarah Paulson’s performance has nuances of several characters she has played before. It’s always a challenge to play a role in a role, and maybe that’s Paulson’s experience. But her Diane feels a little derivative, like the stereotype of a sinister mother of garden varieties who knows that her caring face can be perceived as both sweet and crazy. Kiera Allen’s lineup is impressively wild, as she never seems to be an able-bodied actor who pretends to be disabled. Much of the film’s anxiety relies solely on Chloe’s crippled physical condition; it handles the humanization of a dry scenario device well. It is a completely separate acting language – the ability to speak to the body and the power to turn an action into a visual continuation of a thought. She is the one who gives Run his legs, although both the protagonist and the film are saddled with a weak heart.