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'Run Sweetheart Run' is a great last-minute addition to your Halloween watchlist
If you're still looking for another great new horror film this Halloween, Run Sweetheart Run is here for you.
Great premises are everywhere in horror. It's why short films and short stories are so prevalent in the genre, and why we can still get so much satisfaction out of things like Creepypasta or simply telling stories to each other around a campfire. You can get in, deliver one really creepy idea, and then get right back out again.
So, when it comes to feature-length stories in the horror genre, how do you make pushing things beyond the initial premise worth it for the viewer or the reader? What makes a scary story last beyond that first creepy push? Well, you can take several different approaches. You can milk the idea for all it's worth and then get out relatively quickly (I love an 80-minute horror film, y'all), you can use the premise as the linchpin to pivot into a different story entirely, or you can do what Run Sweetheart Run does, and take the idea further than your audience could possibly expect it to go.
Released on Prime Video today, Run Sweetheart Run starts with an elegant, really intriguing horror premise, then just keeps pushing against the limitations of its own ideas, constantly growing its story in unexpected ways until you're left with something new by the end. It's a very impressive horror film, and if you've still got room on your Halloween watchlist this year, I recommend finding space for it.
As the trailer above shows you, Run Sweetheart Run, which was directed by Shana Feste and written by Feste, Keith Josef Adkins, and Kellee Terrell, begins with a very straightforward premise. Cherie (Ella Balinska) is tasked with taking out one of her boss's most important clients (Pilou Asbæk) for a nice dinner, and it all starts as a very pleasant evening. Then, something turns, and Ethan reveals himself to be a monster with a very clear challenge for Cherie: If she can survive the night, he'll let her live and leave her alone. If she can't... well...
As with two of the other best horror films released this year, Fresh and Barbarian, the film begins by playing with some quite familiar ingredients. You've got the "nice guy" who's going to turn sour, the power systems in place that allow him to be that guy, and the single woman just doing her best to survive in a world whose ambient hostility has suddenly become violently present in her life. You can see where ideas like that might be headed even before the film really gets going, but Run Sweetheart Run is determined to set itself apart with the way it develops those themes, and it begins with a very simple turn of craft.
In the trailer above, you see Asbæk's character, Ethan, literally pause the movement of the camera, shutting out our eyes as he heads inside to terrorize Cherie. It's a clear, frightening gesture of control, not just of the camera in that moment, but of the narrative that's about to unfold. Therefore, Cherie's journey is one not just of survival, but of trying to literally wrest control of her own story back from her tormentor. No, it's not subtle, but this is a film that doesn't need to be subtle to be effective. In fact, it thrives when it's anything but.
I'm hesitant to reveal much more about the film than that, but I came away from Run Sweetheart Run extremely impressed by Balinska and Asbæk's performances, and by Feste's overall command of the constantly evolving situation of the film. It's a movie that takes the tension-and-release rhythm of its core idea and makes sure every moment of pursuit counts, adding something to an unfolding narrative that becomes something much stranger by the end. In other words, it's a film willing to keep growing and risking itself with each passing minute, and that makes it a joy to watch.
Run Sweetheart Run is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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