Run Sweetheart Run, 2022.
Directed by Shana Feste.
Starring Ella Balinska, Pilou Asbæk, Lamar Johnson, Clark Gregg, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Betsy Brandt, Jess Gabor, Aml Ameen, Dayo Okeniyi, and Brandon Keener.
A woman tries to get home alive after her blind date turns violent.
There is a genuinely frightening concept at the core of Run Sweetheart Run, which involves a shady lawyer setting his assistants up on dates with handsome nice-guy Ethan (Pilou Asbæk), who turns out to be responsible for a string of missing person cases throughout Los Angeles. It’s a topic one presumes would be more prevalent throughout the story but is mostly relegated to background posters demanding justice until it’s a convenient time to reveal the group behind this activist movement.
Cherie (Ella Balinska) is the current assistant, apparently having accidentally double-booked appointments for James (Clark Gregg), who resolves the dilemma by taking his wife out for an anniversary celebration while assigning Cherie to the client meeting where she is encouraged to present herself casually and to not worry about the specifics. Essentially, it’s a date that Cherie is somewhat comfortable with giving her status as a single mom of a newborn baby, occasionally lonely and searching for adventure and new connections. Again, it is also a bonus that Ethan is successful and easy on the eyes.
Anyone with half of a brain could probably figure out where this is going, as Ethan keeps up polite and respectful appearances (aside from an out-of-character incident freaking out over a barking dog that approaches him inside the restaurant) and is successful in convincing Cherie to cancel her ride home, work things out with the babysitter, and come inside his home for the night. This leads into the only suspenseful and certainly the most visually interesting scene of Run Sweetheart Run, which doesn’t follow Cherie into the home but leaves the camera fixated on the outside walls as we listen to a violent struggle where she eventually escapes and storms out of the front door with “Run!” flashing across the screen. Give yourself a reward if you can instantly figure out what’s going to happen the last time “Run!” appears on screen, not that it’s difficult.
Strangely, this part of Los Angeles treats Ethan as an untouchable figure. The police don’t believe Cherie and throw her in jail (which could be intentional to protect her and other potential victims, except most likely not because the film never explores why anyone acts so weird and gullible during conversations about him). By tracking the scent of Cherie’s period blood, Ethan tracks her down and bails her out, proposing a game: if she can survive the night, he will stop hunting her.
Admittedly, there are reveals about Ethan and why women that have escaped are utterly terrified of him (that you might be able to guess here already from context clues), but there’s also a feeling that Run Sweetheart Run holds that card too tight for its duration. Not that it matters, as there are still outlandishly stupid characters who would rather walk away instead of firing shotgun rounds into him while he terrorizes women. The movie would also be more fun if it embraced from the beginning what this character really is (and it would definitely improve the rushed third act, which introduces a whole supernatural war).
What can be said is that Ethan’s motives are purely about holding up the patriarchy, as he kills women on the verge of climbing their career ladder. Everything from what he is to how he tracks women to his sadistic kills is surface-level intriguing, but with a woefully amateurish script from co-writer/director Shana Feste (Keith Josef Adkins and Kellee Terrell also receive screenwriting credits), that is content presenting every character as stupid as humanly possible without accomplishing anything of note regarding its fiercely feminist slant.
There comes a point where Cherie has enough knowledge to lure Ethan into an advantageous battleground area, but Run Sweetheart Run cuts to her, ready to fight randomly on a merry-go-round platform. In her defense, Ella Balinska is decent running and hiding until it’s time to fight, and Pilou Pilou Asbæk is creepily two-faced, but everything about the concept execution will have viewers running for the hills.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com