If you haven’t noticed: I write a lot of reviews about films at B&S About Movies. And when I am not writing about movies, I’m talking about films—both in the fingering-digital and lipping-physical realms. There nothing quite like hanging out during a Groovy Doom Saturday Night Double Feature Watch Party (Ugh, more shameful plugs!) and chatting with the digital patrons or at a sports bar with your fellow actors and filmmakers, discuss-debating films and examining the industry (sorely missed during these COVID days)—while the Steelers dominate the gridiron, and the Pirates, the diamond.
One of those discussions was in regards to attending movie theatres vs. streaming and, to that end, which streaming service: Hulu or Netflix. The general consensus: Hulu is the cut-out bargain bin of streamers; they’re the $5.00 impulse-buy barrel on the aisle sandwiched between the home goods and electronics section. Netflix is where people actually log-on to see a film. Yep. It’s the old My Space vs. Facebook and Facebook vs. Snapchat argument, again. Ugh!
And my buddy, Eric; he who despises all thing Seinfeldian (Oops, sorry Sam!) and minces no words when expressing his disdain for failures in the artistic realms, added this observation: “Why the frack is friggin’ Sarah Paulson always friggin’ ranting, bawling, and running around like madwoman in every movie?”
Eric’s also never heard of writer-director Aneesh Chaganty. But I have. And I really enjoyed his previous film, Searching. Chaganty’s adept at the Final Draft and framing the Canon Reds; therefore, I have no doubt that, with his skills as a filmmaker, in conjunction with the always-very-good Paulson as his lead actress (12 Years a Slave, TV’s Law & Order), I had a feeling Run was another worthy streamer on his behalf—regardless of the opinion that “Hulu is the dumping ground for projects studios have no faith in.”
Ah, but the studios do.
Lionsgate had Chaganty’s sophomore effort penciled for a national theatrical release three months ago, back on May 8. Then the pandemic hit and shut down the big theatre chains in March. And while the theatre chain operators are none too happy, the major studios are thankful that we’re living in the digital clouds of 2020; if the COVID virus hit in the Soylent Green-year of 1975, when there was no streaming . . . perish the thought. So, for reasons that aren’t of our middling consumer concerns: Lionsgate cut a deal—instead with Netflix—to stream on Hulu. In fact, another of Lionsgate’s films, the Janelle Monae-horror Antebellum, had its theatrical rollout axed for a September 18 digital premiere.
Even without a pandemic, the fact remains: the brick-and-mortar theatreverse is in a competitive battle—first with cable television, then with PPV, and now with streaming services. Today, theatre chains are all about tentpole-films and summer blockbusters. Those ‘90s-halcyon days of driving to an outside-of-the-big-city six-plex with a screen or two dedicated to a Miramax or Fox Searchlight release (starring Steve Buscemi and Crispin Glover!) are over. Low-to-mid budget movies from mini-majors in the big-city plexs—like Lionsgate, with films like Run and Antebellum—are over. The new, congealing distribution model seems to be forgoing traditional theatrical releases and issuing indie-flicks straight into the home digital markets. In a 28-plex behemoth marketplace, how will audiences find these smaller genre films, like The App from Elisa Fursas and Jason Lester’s High Resolution?
Hello, streaming service.
So, what are we babbling about here? As his previous movie Searching proves: Aneesh Chaganty is a solid filmmaker. And as someone who streams more than his fair share of indie streamers—especially in the horror genre—I’m grateful that he’s giving us a film that’s of a quality that’s head and shoulders above steaming norms. For me, it’s not the service that delivers the film: it’s the film itself. So the mindset here is to cut Aneesh Chaganty some slack and not predisposition his sophomore effort as “awful” just because the backing studio made a deal with one streaming service over the other.
Are we now maligning films over the streaming platform that distributes the movie? Is that what all of this COVID news-cycling has done to us?
Aneesh Chaganty has taken an already terrifying, destructive mental illness, one that also manifests itself as a multi-physical illness in another—Munchausen by Proxy—and turned the admittedly tired stalking genre (deluded by Lifetime’s endless stream of psycho-antagonists vs. damsel-in-distress flicks) upside down.
Diane (Sarah Paulson) is a mother whose love runs deep—deep enough that’s she put her daughter Chloe (Kiera Allen) into a wheelchair. And because of the bullying and discrimination that accompanies a handicap; Diane holds her daughter in a home school isolation that’s slowly built since Chloe’s birth. Diane’s method of control: she medicates her daughter into a mystery- debilitating illness that results in a perpetual round of surgeries and more medications. Now a teenager, Chloe beings to suspect her mother’s love isn’t one of compassion, and not one of a mental illness out of her mother’s control, but one of a sinister, ulterior motive that has nothing to do with love.
UPDATE: Hulu set a premiere date for November 20, 2020.
Disclaimer: We weren’t provided with a screener nor received a review request from the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.