Aneesh Chaganty’s Run

Sarah Paulsen can be pretty damn scary when she wants to be and casting directors have taken full advantage of her talents, placing her in some truly unsettling roles where she somehow always manages to find humanity in the monstrosity. Aneesh Chaganty’s Run is a diabolically calibrated shocker that sees the actress in one of her more disturbing turns yet as a new mother who, as we see in an atmospheric prologue, loses her newborn child two hours after it’s born and appears devastated. Fast forward a decade and a half and we see her living in relative tranquility with a disabled daughter (Kiera Allen) and a good teaching job. She loves her kid very much and takes care of her multiple serious medical conditions until the daughter sees some cracks in the seams and realizes that mommie dearest might not be who she says she is and may be downright dangerous. This leads to a series of excruciatingly suspenseful scenes of the kid trying to break free, figure out what’s going on and how she’s being lied to and Paulsen furiously trying to keep her close, and very much in the dark. Director Chaganty also did the sensational 2018 thriller Searching with John Cho and that film was almost entirely restricted to the realm of digital social media screens and phone/tablet interfaces and somehow managed to be as exciting and propulsive as can be. This film obviously has less limitations and takes place out and about in the real world but the same nerve wracking momentum and crackling energy are present the entire time, so it stands to reason that this guy is a filmmaker to keep a close eye on as far as thrillers go. The ending was a bit.. demented for me and although deliciously and darkly serendipitous, felt a tad strange but everything that comes before is top tier thriller material, with Paulsen firing on all certifiably deranged cylinders.

-Nate Hill