Run Hide Fight
Directed by Kyle Rankin. Starring Isabel May, Thomas Jane, Radha Mitchell, Olly Sholotan, Eli Brown. Running time: 108 minutes. 2021. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Halfway through the recently released action thriller Run Hide Fight, student-turned-school shooter Tristan Voy gives a reason for his actions: his victims brought their fate upon themselves.
“You created me,” he proclaims, waving his gun and gazing into the smartphone camera, thousands of viewers looking on in real time.
But despite being the subject of national news, Tristan (Eli Brown) doesn’t keep the spotlight in this fictional film released earlier this month by conservative media brand The Daily Wire. Instead, cameras turn to a girl who has spent most of her time trying to stay out of sight: Zoe Hull (Isabel May), a student now in head-to-head combat with Tristan’s fellow attackers.
That is where Run Hide Fight appears to try something new among dramatic portrayals of US school shootings: unpacking the psyche not of the shooters, but of the one trying to defeat them.
“People aren’t gonna remember you,” states Zoe. “They’re gonna remember me.”
The underlying point: only heroes are worth remembering, while perpetrators are only worth defeating.
It’s an unconventional message, and it’s earned the film its share of criticism. Comparing it to previous films such as We Need to Talk About Kevin that explore shooters’ troubled pasts, David Rooney at The Hollywood Reporter writes,
“What’s most notable about [director] Kyle Rankin’s slick and compulsively watchable genre entry Run Hide Fight is the utter shallowness of its psychological perspective.”
Indeed, the overwhelming complaint among critics was the film’s lack of “taste.” “It often feels like an insanely poor-taste experiment,” states The Telegraph. “It feels fundamentally tasteless, indeed just plain wrong,” rules Screen Daily. These and other critics’ dismissals amounted to a meager 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — in contrast to a 93% audience score. Why the disparity?
To be fair, the film isn’t shy about its portrayal of gun violence on both sides of the fight; sensitivity is not the priority here. Something else about the film earned it sky-high approval among audiences. That something is May’s performance, which demands attention from start to finish.
When we meet Zoe, she’s not exactly jumping out of her seat to help others. Struggling to cope with the recent death of her mother, Zoe has few friends to lean on, and the few who are close to her are getting nothing but a cold shoulder.
But when crisis hits, Zoe realises she can’t sit by when, as a skilled deer hunter, she has the ability to defend herself and her school.
May holds nothing back. From hurtling herself onto one of the shooters from behind to tearing down the hall while dragging an injured leg, her physicality screams of the will to survive. And by weaving in conversations with her deceased mother as she dodges gunfire and explosions, Rankin shows that her struggle is just as much internal as it is external.
Surprisingly, it is through Zoe herself that we glimpse sympathetic qualities in the attackers. When she confronts Kip, one of Tristan’s accomplices, she leads him to share his backstory, and she even offers him a chance to turn around and do the right thing. Without excusing them, this interaction humanises the shooters and makes Zoe’s character stand out all the more.
Any of the shooters in Run Hide Fight could have been the subject of their own documentary that unveils the abuse and instability that led to their crimes: Tristan had neglectful parents, and Kip was bullied in middle school. But Rankin didn’t want to make another We Need to Talk About Kevin. Zeroing in on Zoe fighting tooth and nail, he smacks audiences with the idea that the shooters’ story is not the only one worth telling.
Run Hide Fight certainly raises uncomfortable questions about guns, shooters, and those who confront them. But given its standout protagonist, it’s a shame that Hollywood has dismissed a film that challenges the narrative norm as merely “tasteless.”
“Run Hide Fight” is available for Daily Wire members to stream at dailywire.com/videos/run-hide-fight.