'Run Sweetheart Run' review: Nonsensical horror satire never finds its stride
Courtesy of Prime Video
Finally making its debut after premiering a lifetime ago at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, writer- director Shana Feste’s “Run Sweetheart Run” squanders its themes and potential in favor of ludicrous twists and even sillier execution. A cautionary tale about the victim shaming and harassment women undergo not only in the workplace, but in public, “Run Sweetheart Run” earns style points for dissecting how predatory men are literally hound dogs out for blood, but at the expense of fumbling its premise with awkward, unexplained fourth wall breaks, underwritten supporting characters, and on-screen text that halts momentum just as things start rolling.
When single mom Cherie (Ella Balinska – the films sole beacon of hope) agrees to meet a boss’ client for a quick dinner, things spiral out of control after her date, Ethan (Pilou Asbaek), a charmer at first, reveals his sadistic colors. Ethan is handsome, wealthy, can make strong gin and tonics and never struggles at luring women back to his pad. As the door slams behind them, after Ethan insists Cherie hang for a nightcap, screams can be heard from inside while eerie music tries swelling out the chaos. To our surprise, Cherie escapes, though with a torn dress, bloodied face, and an inherent lack of stability, it’s clear she’s running for her life.
She ends up on the streets, begging bystanders for help and when the police finally show-up, they attribute her hysterics to a night of binge drinking (gimme a break!). In the holding cell, it’s revealed Ethan is some type of hunter with killer instincts who can sniff out his prey with unmistakable certainty. Cherie’s told to stay clean and watch her back because this guy won’t quit, leading to a deranged “Most Dangerous Game” riff hindered by bizarre turns and a fair amount of groan-inducing B-movie dialogue.
Every male character in “Run Sweetheart Run,” weather it’s an ex-boyfriend or overly sentimental boss (played by Clark Gregg), are various embodiments of toxic masculinity. Except for Ethan’s wolf in sheep’s clothing personality and who’s earth shattering reveal undoes any sliver of goodwill from Balinska’s committed performance. Elsewhere, the arrival of secondary characters, without context or warning, deflate tensions. As does the jarring third act, where an army of oppressed women in martial arts uniforms show up by Cherie’s side for a lackluster final smackdown.
Offering more confusion than clarity, “Run Sweetheart Run,” which hails from the Blumhouse banner, undercuts its pro-feminist message by ironically hurling blanket statements at the screen, hoping the audience isn’t smart enough to see through its undercooked nonsense. It’s all bark and no bite.
RUN SWEETHEART RUN streams on Prime Video Friday, October 28th.