Basked in shadows and crimson-reds and grainy yellows, offering no respite from the relentless assault of scenes depicting children casually embracing violence, it’s a somber experience, indeed. Now, I have no issues with somber experiences if they are handled deftly, if the filmmakers present the darkness with something original or thought-provoking to say (I love the works of Ingmar Bergman, Lars von Trier, Michael Haneke, Gaspar Noe, among dozens of others). I am a fan of films that view coming-of-age through a dark, very adult fantasy prism as in the works of Terry Gilliam, Guillermo del Toro, or emerging filmmaker Issa Lopez.
What is Swab saying with the stylistically, tonally, and morally confused Run with the Hunted? That to live on society’s fringes, you’ve got to, well, run with the hunted? That you reap what you sow? It’s difficult to vindicate a child committing murder (unless they’re a psychotic kid in a Blumhouse horror flick), and this film doesn’t even attempt to get to the roots of this violence. Is it parental neglect? If so, Oscar’s first act of cold-hearted manslaughter is far from justified.
“…actors either overdoing it or simply acting poorly.”
Neither does Swab probe the naïve, vulnerable mind of a child, so easy to shape and control. The filmmaker dances around the subject – he could have made so much of the rapport between Birdie and Sway, and their relationship with the children – but he rushes along as if required to hit some pre-established story beats. Michael Pitt, usually so charismatic, comes in more than halfway through the film, sporting a ridiculous hairdo and doing an impression of an impression of James Franco’s character in Springbreakers. There’s little chemistry between any of the leads, all the actors inhabiting their own worlds: the stalwarts sleepily cashing in their paychecks, the younger actors either overdoing it or simply acting poorly.
Run with the Hunted makes for an uncomfortable viewing experience, as it is unsettling for all the wrong reasons, spiky, intangible ideas colliding in the muck. It could’ve been so much more, considering the impressive cast Swab’s assembled and the subject matter he tries to tackle. Shame.
"…would be a laugh riot if it weren't so damn serious."