08th Mar2021

Frightfest Glasgow 2021: ‘Run Hide Fight’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Isabel May, Radha Mitchell, Thomas Jane, Eli Brown, Olly Sholotan, Treat Williams, Barbara Crampton, Cyrus Arnold, Britton Sear, Catherine Davis, Kenneisha Thompson, Zachary Le Vey, Shelby Mayes | Written and Directed by Kyle Rankin

I’ve been a huge fan of writer/director Kyle Rankin’s work ever since I first saw Infestation. His blend of comedy and horror really appealed to my sensibilities. Which means I’m always excited to see what he does next. However all his previous efforts never prepared me for Run Hide Fight… Gone are the laughs and in comes a shockingly real look at school shootings, from inside the building.

A normal school day is brought to a brutal halt when invaded by armed students on a murderous mission. As the shooting starts and the blood starts to flow, Zoe (Isabel May) is lucky to get out alive. But then she heads back inside the building to rescue as many staff and pupils as she can…

It’s a controversial choice to make a Die Hard-esque “action” movie about school shootings, and one that will not come without repercussions but Rankin is familiar with the trauma of gun violence and so treats the subject with compassion, sincerity and a sense of respect; all the while crafting a tense, suspenseful film that puts big-budget action thrillers to shame. Undoubtedly because Rankin’s film has a real sense of humanity. The actions and interactions of people, both good and bad, are at the centre of this film, they drive the story rather than any action set-pieces.

Speaking of people, one of Run Hide Fight‘s real successes is the cast. Isabel May, who was in the less than stellar Let’s Scare Julie last year, is absolutely superb as traumatised teen turned hero Zoe. Her performance is the perfect mix of emotions: fear, strength, selflessness and heroism. Meanwhile Eli Brown, as the leader of the school shooters, is a brilliant foil for May’s Zoe. A maniacally fantastic performance that walks a fine line between sociopath and power-hungry lunatic. In fact Run Hide Fight is filled with great performances, from unknown actors in small roles to the film big-name stars – Treat Williams, Thomas Jane, Barbara Crampton, Radha Mitchell – everyone gives it there all. Mitchell in particular is interesting, playing the deceased mother of Zoe who talks to her daughter from beyond the grave, giving her the strength and will to survive – at the same time being “let go” by Zoe the more she’s shows her own inner strength. It’s a brilliant exploration of grief set within the confines of an action thriller!

Run Hide Fight does fall into some typical tropes however – the charismatic leader “controlling” a group of socially awkward teens in his quest for fame and revenge for example. It’s a well-worn cliche in genre films and that’s also the case here. Though it does make for some brilliant scenes of our villains, thinking they’re in control of the situation, becoming terrified at anyone – in this case our heroine Zoe – fighting back. Speaking of control, there’s also a brilliant exploration of the power dynamics of high school. Yes it may be a cliche that bullying leads to violence but the way Run Hide Fight explores that – how ONE trauma: a prank, a vicious nickname, etc., can lead to something as explosive as a school shooting – is commendable.

Yet all the talk of how social media and high school bullying doesn’t make Run Hide Fight an overtly political film – even though its been treated that way so far (how else do you explain this film being released on Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire rather than a traditional release). In fact its anything but. There’s no right-wing, left-wing or ANY wing agendas for that matter, here – its a straight down the middle action movie take on school shootings. In fact it’s like a myriad of the big-budget Hollywood “hero versus terrorist” films we’ve had over the years. Only here the terrorists are domestic and the budget is a lot smaller. Even Zoe’s father – a former soldier turned quiet, retiring hunter – who, on paper, is the epitome of political agenda, is given the respect of being just that: a former soldier using his skills to help his daughter.

I could throw all the superlatives at this film: brilliant, superb, fantastic, etc., to try an convince you that Run Hide Fight is worth your time. Because it is. However given its reception already I doubt there’s any convincing some people…

***** 5/5

Run Hide Fight screened as part of Glasgow Frightfest 2021.


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