Hulu just premiered Run and it has garnered the most eyeballs ever for an opening on the platform. Which is quite a feat, especially since the trailer, though enticing, makes the movie seem maybe too frightening for anyone that's not a scary-movie buff. [Ed. note: I'm not, and it's not.] The story of a mom and her daughter with disabilities living in an isolated home was originally slated for a Mother's Day theatrical release, but thanks to COVID-19 reshuffling, now it's streaming on Hulu, and there are a bunch of reasons it will not just entertain you (like it did Stephen King), but change the way you look at moviemaking in general.
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What's it about?
Chloe Sherman is a home-schooled teen who is a disciplined student anxiously awaiting news about her application to the University of Washington. Since she's in a wheelchair, however, her mom, Diane Sherman, is always first to the mailbox to retrieve the mail; she promises Chloe to let her know the minute the college sends its response. Also, Chloe hints about how she'd love to have a phone, but her mom just lightly harumphs in response and goes back to watering the vegetable garden outside their isolated two-story home. But when Chloe investigates the label on one of her pill bottles (part of a whole regimen including exercises that her mom oversees), the sleuthing reveals more and more questions and increasingly unsettling answers.
What's special about "Run"?
In addition to the narrative twists and turns, the real surprises here have to do with talent and representation. First, the talent: You know star Sarah Paulson, alum of Ryan Murphy scarefests like American Horror Story and Ratched, is going to chew scenery as Diane, the increasingly unhinged matriarch. Don't worry, tender viewers—this movie isn't as grotesque as Murphy's oeuvre, but Paulson turns in another endlessly watchable performance that never lets us forget the kernel of humanity inside even the most misguided individual. But the real marvel here is newcomer Keira Allen, who in real life is a 22-year-old college student. This is her first major role, and yet she steals the show in what is essentially a two-hander feature film, palpably transmitting her growing alarm. Her soft prettiness and eyes alert with intelligence call to mind a young Scarlett Johansson; here's to hoping we see more of Allen in the future.
Which brings us to the next big reveal of Run, which is representation. Allen, who is disabled, told the New York Times that while she has seen able-bodied actors take on roles of disabled people, this role is special to her, and to viewers. "I didn’t have a lot of pieces of entertainment—films, TV, plays—where I could see a genuinely disabled person in that role," she says. "I’m just so excited for young people to see that now." Additionally, the actress lauds the way that Chloe is a portrayed as a hero. You'll think so too while watching: Though "empowered" is so overused as to be meaningless, that's the word that springs to mind watching a bravura action scene in which Chloe escapes across a rooftop without using her chair.
And one final note about representation: Run resoundingly passes the Bechdel-Wallace Test, that template that judges scripts on their having two women, with names, in at least a scene talking to one another about something other than a man. Sure, you might say, this story concerns a mother and a daughter so of course they are talking about something other than a man—this isn't an Elizabethan chamber drama. Yet in one scene, when intrepid Chloe sneaks over to the neighborhood pharmacy to inquire about those suss pills her mom gives her...the pharmacist she queries is a woman. Not only that, she is a woman with a name: Mrs. Bates. So well done, Chloe Sherman, Diane Sherman and Mrs. Bates. We see you, we name you and we thank you for giving us a really good thrill in Run.
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