Run ★★★★

in today’s world this feels like a familiar story, echoing both fiction like sharp objects and real stories like gypsy rose blanchard, but that familiarity doesn’t make it any less potent here. i was skeptical, not wanting to indulge this worn out plot that seemingly exists only to mystify and thrill able bodied audiences. but i’m excited to say that’s not exactly what i found in this case

my first discovery here was that newcomer kiera allen acts circles around sarah paulson. the latter is clearly the selling point, her name all over the advertising in big bold letters, “look at sarah paulson go, look at her cry, look at her scream”, fleshing out the kind of sadistic and melodramatic role that she’s best at. but seeing a real wheelchair user maneuver nightmare scenarios and experience all levels of terror was something i’ve never really experienced before. and i’m not gonna lie, it makes all the difference for me. this isn’t just joey king wearing big glasses, or kevin mchale climbing out of his prop wheelchair in a dream sequence to dance. this is someone that pushes off walls with her arms in tight spaces and rounds sharp corners on a dime. does being disabled make her a good actor? of course not, but the good news is that she is a good actor. the whole movie rests solely on kiera allen’s shoulders, and she carries it boldly and independently while sarah pounds on the door outside

i don’t talk about my disability all that often in online spaces, only truly out of habit because these online spaces have been my biggest escape from the limitations that come with being disabled in the real world. but seeing fragments of yourself represented on screen when you so rarely are is a powerful feeling, like gasping for air when you didn’t realize you were being held underwater. on it’s own, this film is a thrilling enough ride, aptly made and successfully placing us in the shoes of the main character, fearing sarah paulson like we’re so used to doing. but the choices made with casting (and small specifics in things like writing and set design) changed the overall feeling for myself and possibly for others like me who relate to these particular struggles. for able bodied audiences they might as well be watching a slasher film, or any b-movie thriller. but every day i face small obstacles like some of the ones shown here: a staircase laid out in front of me as if to taunt me, or a set of front wheels buried deep in mud. can’t get out of a car unless the person i’m with gets my chair out for me, and even in the best scenarios that can still feel crushingly isolating and even momentarily scary at times

does a part of me wish the story here was a bit different? of course i do. but there’s something to be said for small change happening slowly with stories that we’re already well aquatinted with. yes, on the surface this is just a mother-daughter thriller, but the brilliant performance by a disabled actor makes it shine. and yes, a movie like the upcoming happiest season is just a safe holiday rom-com, but the lgbt representation might make all the difference for a community that has never seen itself in that beloved and comforting sub-genre, just like i’d never seen a real life disabled final girl until tonight, and didn’t even realize how much i wanted to. not everything has to be a grand movement, a monumental shift that shakes us to our core with bold statements and unique outlooks, no matter how much we desire that as soon as we can get it (or create it ourselves). small steps leave a softer but lasting impression, something that might not make waves with its originality but will quietly stick with those who relate to it. and some people can mock cries for representation in media if they like, but the reality is that until we’re all able to see ourselves on screen (and behind it) we won’t all be able to fully grasp the real power of visual storytelling and what a welcoming relief it is to be able to relate to it

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