July 27, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

‘Run’ review: Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen in Hulu thriller

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: Sarah Paulson fans, especially from works such as “American Horror Story” and “Ratched,” will be paralyzed with joy by the new thriller “Run.” But there’s so much more to it.

One wishes the film could be reviewed without spoiling any of its turns, but one way to put it is: Ultra-devoted single mom Diane (Paulson) and her chronically ill daughter Chloe (newcomer Kiera Allen), who uses a wheelchair, await responses to Chloe’s college applications. Before they have to face the home-schooled girl going out in the world without Mom for the first time, a few secrets will come out … and the two will find themselves facing a crisis that changes everything. Things will get awfully messed up.

Paulson has always been a smart, versatile actress, and she gets to show all the colors of a fractured rainbow here. But that’s not the biggest news about this legitimate thriller premiering on Hulu this week. That would be the revelatory performance of Allen, whose only previous credit is a short film released six years ago. Her Chloe is highly intelligent, and it’s one of the early good signs for “Run” that we immediately believe that. It’s so hard to convey a character‘s unusual intelligence unless the actor and the writing and directing team are as well, as Allen and writer-director Aneesh Chaganty and cowriter Sev Ohanian (who previously teamed on the acclaimed “Searching”) seem to be.

That’s my girl: Sarah Paulson, left, is the devoted mom and Kiera Allen is the whip-smart, wheelchair-bound daughter in the thriller “Run.”

(Allen Fraser/Hulu)

Chloe’s determination and smarts make “Run” much more enjoyable to watch than the vast majority of specimens of the genre. She credibly thinks her way through problems. When things are dire, she ratchets up her courage — and Allen sells us on it all. Her performance is also finely modulated emotionally, rather than going from zero to 100. As the new information becomes progressively freakier, she reacts appropriately.

Perhaps that Allen is a real-life wheelchair user informs her performance valuably. Knowing that about the actress certainly adds a layer of anxiety to a stunt sequence involving a roof. It’s quite engaging to watch Chloe think, feel and fight her way through the film’s various obstacles and traps. It’s not necessarily that the revelations will be all that shocking to jaded moviegoers; it’s that we totally buy that they’re revelations to her. It’s a very promising debut.

No spoilers here, but Chaganty and Ohanian also reward viewers with one of the better endings of a movie this year.

‘Run’

Rated: PG-13, for disturbing thematic content, some violence/terror and language

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Available Nov. 20 on Hulu