‘Run’ Review: Bad Medicine

If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother. Balancing on the backs of umpteen matriarch-from-hell movies, the director Aneesh Chaganty brings us “Run,” a nifty little thriller whose title pleads for an exclamation point.

And not just because of its hyperventilating style. Sarah Paulson’s performance in the role of Diane — a single mother so controlling she’s more prison warden than parent — flickers with camp. That tone is on display when Diane insinuates to fellow home-schoolers that, for the past 17 years, her sickly daughter, Chloe (Kiera Allen), has made her life a misery of servitude. And it fully blooms in the movie’s dementedly operatic final scenes, when the scales have slipped from Chloe’s eyes and Diane is revealed in all her deranged glory.

Before then, the movie hints at a mildly sinister hostage drama as Chloe, smart and (like Allen herself) in a wheelchair, waits for her college acceptance letter and navigates multiple chronic health conditions. Surprisingly cheerful for someone with neither friends nor phone nor unmonitored internet access, Chloe maintains a comfortable codependency with Diane, who provides pills and plausible reasons for denying her daughter further freedoms. Until a troubling discovery kicks Chloe into an unexpectedly suspenseful battle for more than just the right to online privacy.

This will involve stunts both elaborate and hazardous, and Allen, in her first feature role, is convincingly up for all of them. Despite a script (by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian) that sees no need to flavor its tension with flashbacks or character-fleshing, “Run” has fun with its ludicrous plot. As when Chloe persuades Diane to take her to a movie and we glimpse its title on the marquee: “Breakout.”

Run
Rated PG-13 for a nasty rash, a toxic beverage and a very unlucky mailman. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch on Hulu.

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