OPINION: ‘Run Sweetheart Run’s’ style can’t save its plot


Courtesy photo of Amazon Studios

Initially released at Sundance Film Festival in early 2020, Shana Feste’s feminist supernatural horror “Run Sweetheart Run” was picked up by Amazon and finally wide released in October of this year through Prime Video.

A single mother named Cherie (Ella Balinska) is sent to a dinner in place of her boss where she meets Ethan Sacks (Pilou Asbæk). The night quickly sours as Ethan attacks Cherie and begins hunting her through Los Angeles by following the scent of her blood.

Balinska and Asbæk start out a little shaky but end up giving two pretty chilling performances. Balinska, in particular, plays into her final girl status well.

The film is rooted in feminism and looking for ways to fight male hegemony. The main villain, Ethan, is an immortal monster who has been plaguing mankind for thousands of years and is the sole reason men have been in power for so long. It ultimately is up to  Cherie, along with other women previously hunted by Ethan, to defeat him.

This concept has a lot of potential but its heavy-handedness and dissolution of its lore dulls the impact of this messaging hard.

For instance, towards the film’s end, Cherie meets the First Lady, Dinah (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who was sent to stop Ethan (I guess?). As she is describing Ethan’s crusade to keep men in power, she starts talking about Adam and Eve and dispels that Eve came from Adam’s rib.

There are a few issues here. One, how long has Dinah been on Earth? Two, what has she been doing prior to Cherie showing up? Three, can we even call what they are doing a metaphor?

It feels belittling to the audience to come on this strong. The film gives viewers no room to think for themselves and draws hard lines between good and evil.

The sub commentary of the film revolves around the responsibility of a bystander. Initially, no strangers will help Cherie. They are judgemental or simply complacent and feel no guilt in turning Cherie away.

As the film continues, strangers begin to realize the danger Cherie is in and assist her in any ways they can think. As people start helping her, Ethan catches on and continues to kill them.

I’m unsure what kind of messaging this is supposed to be. Ignore someone in need and feel guilty or help them and die?

This is all a shame because it is an engaging thriller that is just a little unpredictable without any shocking or gaudy twists. It also comes with an equally engaging style from Feste that is nearly enough to dodge many of the film’s plot holes.

The film is dripping with social commentary but uses no common sense in fleshing itself out. Don’t conceptually think about this one too hard, or at all, or you might spoil a technically and stylistically captivating film.