★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Boy Harsher, Jae Matthews, and Augustus Muller
To be clear, there’s not a lot of running in 2022’s The Runner. There’s some trundling through the woods and there’s some “running shoes”, but we’re not sure if you you could actually run in the shoes featured in this Shudder film. Think clunky hipster orthopedic running shoes. Probably not optimal for running.
Interestingly, the Runner isn’t a feature length film, nor is it a horror short. It fits in a very odd middle ground almost an island entirely to itself. Clocking in at 39 minutes this is a film that could have either been 20 minutes shorter or 45 minutes longer. Its time is odd and so is its content.
The Runner is almost — not quite, but almost — a silent film. Kris Esfandari plays the runner. A mysterious young woman dragging around the aforementioned clunky shoes from one Lynchian scene to the next. She’s got a secret and it just might be manifesting itself as some sort of vampiric monster.
Interspersed with the runner’s exploits is a music video shoot and a series of what can only be described as faux 1980s informercials. If this all sounds a little odd, well, it is. The film has a a very dreamy through-line with some tenuous connective elements, but its ethereal nature keeps the audience firmly at bay.
Directed by American electronic duo, Boy Harsher, the film’s music video sensibilities are fully on display. Less concerned about the need to deliver a traditional horror film, Boy Harsher opt for a more coy approach that focuses around their music production. This is not to say The Runner is not without horror elements. There are a couple scenes, one in particular, that is astoundingly gnarly. The Runner definitely contains some interesting ideas, but left as is, the film feels like an incomplete project.
If the current spate of borish re-quels (Chucky, Halloween, Scream, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, et. al.) have you tired and disinterested, then The Runner might be what your imagination needs for the extra kick. That said, if you’re after a coherent narrative and a traditional horror movie spook show then lace up those running shoes and jog on over to your local video store.
The Runner is not rated and currently streaming on Shudder.