​​Run Sweetheart Run: a Noteworthy Horror Film

by Hailey Greg
Run Sweetheart Run a Noteworthy Horror Film

Run Sweetheart Run, which was supposed to open in theaters nationwide in 2019, premiered at Sundance in January 2020 instead. Because of the pandemic, the film’s release was delayed along with that of numerous others.

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Universal Pictures allegedly passed on the idea, but Amazon Studios picked it up. Shana Feste, the film’s director, decided to revise the script and shoot some extra scenes to ensure that the final result was professionally executed and reflective of the social problems she wished to express.

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The main character, Cherie is a young LA single mother. She wants to become an attorney, but the chauvinistic ideas of the male partners at the law office she works for making it almost impossible for her to do so. Cherie and the other women at the company are forced to work as secretaries since their boss, James Fuller, doesn’t give a hoot about their requests for advancements.

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When James asks Cherie to accompany a client out to dinner, Cherie thinks her fortunes have finally turned. She seizes the opportunity, and at first, it seems she has won over her client Ethan.

Realizing their mutual attraction, he asks her over to his apartment for drinks after dinner. She accepts his offer, only to have second thoughts shortly afterward.

As Cherie enters the man’s home, Ethan looks at the camera and holds out his hand as if to forbid the viewer from doing so. After then, the audience is sent outside to wait as they hear hints of Cherie’s inner turmoil.

Cherie runs out the door looking disheveled and upset. The word RUN appears in bold red letters across the screen, and an enthusiastic musical score starts playing. After this point, the movie really starts to pick up pace as we follow Cherie as she races through the streets of Los Angeles in an effort to evade Ethan.

This film seems to follow the standard format for the woman in peril genre. If you’re tired of movies of this genre, don’t let that stop you from giving this one a go since it’s so unconventional. Despite the fact that Cherie is forced to leave and does end up in a dangerous situation, Ethan is not your usual sex pest type character, and the film does not go in the direction you are probably expecting. This film is more of a horror flick than a psycho-thriller because of its shocking twists.

The director based the movie on her own horrible date, in which she ran away from a man’s house in the Hollywood Hills without her shoes or pocketbook and was unable to get in touch with anybody.

EW spoke with Este, who said how the people she had hoped would come to her aid ended up hurting her instead. Perhaps Feste had a similar experience to the one shown in the film when neither the police nor certain members of Cherie’s own sisterhood came to her help.

Audience members will be on the edge of their seats watching filmmaker Feste follow Cherie as she escapes one harrowing situation after another. The fast-paced camerawork and unexpected turns of the story hardly give us a chance to catch our breath, and even when they do, the tension never completely subsides since we never know when Ethan may come up to wreak havoc.

The director’s deft breaking of the fourth wall to speak to the audience is noteworthy, among the film’s many other strengths.

Ethan tends to gaze straight at the camera before doing a particularly horrific crime, as I said earlier when he put his hand in front of the camera to restrict us from entering his residence.

This further adds to the dread we feel as the events in the film begin to seem more and more plausible. It’s easy to identify with the bystanders who watch Cherie’s plight develop on screen yet do nothing to help her. The director may be pointing the finger at those who turn a blind eye to those in need, but it’s clear that men and the patriarchy are her actual target.

The first time we see this is when Cherie’s boss at the law firm talks down to her, but the film features other scenes, like one in a police station where the officer in charge doesn’t take Cherie’s plea for help seriously, that also highlight the sexist attitudes that have traditionally kept women in their place. Feste’s efforts to drive home her arguments during these scenes may seem intrusive at first, but they help to humanize the film as a whole.

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Even with Ella Balinska’s hard labor, the picture isn’t yet finished. However, the film’s message is usually lost in the ridiculous story twists, despite a few cheap thrills, like Ethan killing a man by chewing off his head with his teeth.

The predicament Cherie finds herself in is meant to symbolize the genuine worry that women face on a daily basis, including the unpredictable and violent nature of men, victim-blaming law enforcement officers, male coalition partners who turn out to be creeps, and mentors that just want to get into their pants; even so, the message is dulled by the dopey script, uneven direction, Ethan’s hammy nods at the camera, and even an odd conspiracist cameo from Betsy Brandt.

This film is undoubtedly the year’s greatest shock, and far more thought-provoking than other women in jeopardy films that are more predatory in character. Run Sweetheart Run is a picture that should not be missed because of its powerful social themes, terrifying horror sequences, elegant directing, and outstanding performance from its main lady.

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