Review: Sarah Paulson leads deranged mother-daughter thriller 'Run'

Suspenseful tale, streaming on Hulu, centers on a crazed mother's overbearing relationship with her daughter

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

There's a fine line between motherhood and smotherhood, and the intoxicating thriller "Run" exploits it to deliriously giddy results. 

This breathless heart-pounder centers on a mother, Diane Sherman (a fabulously deranged Sarah Paulson) who cares for her daughter, Chloe (Kiera Allen) at their home in Washington state. Chloe uses a wheelchair as a result of a litany of complications with her premature birth, and Diane, her full time caretaker, isn't ready to send her daughter off into the world as she prepares to go to college.  

Kiera Allen and Sarah Paulson in "Run."

The lengths Diane goes to in order to keep her daughter homebound are just the tip of the iceberg in co-writer and director Aneesh Chaganty's crafty little tale, which stages one pulse-quickening sequence after another. But Chaganty, who also directed 2018's inventive screen-bound "Searching," keeps these set pieces small and earthbound, displaying a mastery of craft and keeping the audience from ever throwing up their hands in disbelief. 

There are shades of "Carrie" here, in "Run's" depiction of a demented mother-daughter relationship, as well as "The Act," which centered on Munchausen syndrome by proxy, the clinical name for when a caregiver convinces their subject they have an illness they don't really have.

Viewers are along for the ride as Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian parse out details slowly and deliberately, eventually revealing all but not showing their hand too soon.   

In her feature film debut, Allen — the first wheelchair-user to star in a thriller since the 1940s — does tremendous work, including a perilous white-knuckle scene that places her outdoors on the roof of her home. 

Paulson, meanwhile, is right at home playing a psycho mother, and she injects "Run" with a needed but sustained dose of crazy. 

"Run" breezes along and wraps up succinctly in under 90 minutes, never allowing its energy to flag. It's a tight exercise in controlled chaos, simple in its suspense. Run toward it.




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

Running time: 89 minutes

On Hulu