Run Hide Fight was generating controversy long before it was released. A plot that turns school shootings into a Die Hard style action romp attracted negative attention almost from the moment the film was announced. Others had issues with the involvement of Dallas Sonnier and his company Bonfire Legend. Accusations of misogyny and covering for a sex abuser had led to most other companies distancing themselves from him and his previous company Cinestate.
Then came the announcement that right wing pundit Ben Shapiro would be distributing the film via his alt-right website Daily Wire. And indeed that is how it is being released, streaming exclusively via that site. Since festival reviews hadn’t mentioned a strong political content I was curious. So, armed with a co-worker’s login I checked it out.
The film opens with Zoe Hull (Isabel May, Let’s Scare Julie,Alexa & Katie) and her former Marine father Todd (Thomas Jane, The Mist, Hunter’s Moon) out deer hunting. Zoe shoots a deer but doesn’t kill it. When he explains to her the importance of getting a kill shot rather than letting an animal suffer she responds not by putting a bullet in its head but by using a rock to smash its skull. Back home she has a conversation with her mother (Radha Mitchell, Dreamkatcher, Silent Hill). That wouldn’t be unusual except her mother recently died of cancer. Which doesn’t stop her popping up to offer advice and encouragement.
She gets a ride to school with her best/only friend Lewis (Olly Sholotan). Come lunchtime she happens to be out of the cafeteria when Tristan (Eli Brown, The Fuck-It List), Kip (Cyrus Arnold, Runt, Hardcore Henry) and Chris (Britton Sear, Unfinished Business), and his sister Anna (Catherine Davis, Trauma Center) drive a van through the cafeteria window and come out shooting. She manages to escape but then decides to go back in and play hero.
Let’s get to the big question first. No, Run Hide Fight is not a right wing polemic about guns and it doesn’t play like it was written by the NRA. That would be giving it way too much credit. I doubt any thought beyond getting blood and boobs onto the screen were involved. Things like bullying, mental illness and even social media fame are brought up. And just as quickly dropped in favor of the next buzzword.
Allegedly writer/director Kyle Rankin (Infestation, Night of the Living Deb) wrote the original draft of Run Hide Fight after the Parkland shootings in 2018. If so there’s no reason why it should still have plot holes like a van driving through a window into the school, its occupants come out shooting and nobody outside of the cafeteria notices until they call the office themselves to announce the fact.
That could possibly be overlooked if Run Hide Fight managed to deliver enough action to keep the audience from thinking about it. But with only four bad guys there aren’t nearly enough opportunities for mayhem to accomplish that. Instead we get Tristan forcing the Spanish teacher to show him her boobs while Lewis is forced to live stream it.
In place of having to walk over broken glass, Zoe gets a bullet in the leg and has to take out the bad guys while limping. But at least she has her mother to give her pep talks when she gets discouraged. While that part is a bit different, Rankin should have concentrated on building suspense rather than mother/daughter bonding from beyond the grave.
All the while the cops wait outside. Of course Todd just happened to have been a sniper while he was in uniform so he goes vigilante to help his daughter. Cameo watchers should note those cops include Treat Williams (Deep Rising, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader) in a throwaway role as the sheriff. Speaking of throwaway roles, watch for a brief appearance by Barbara Crampton(Stay Out Stay Alive, Beyond the Gates).
At an hour and forty nine minutes Run Hide Fight goes on way too long. Yes, Die Hard is over two hours long but it had a lot more talent, ideas and action than this limp mess. Trimming it back to ninety minutes wouldn’t have saved it, but it would have cut out a lot of boredom. Massacre at Central High tackled this kind of material much better all the way back in 1976. Last year’s The Dead Ones did a better job of making this kind of a situation into exploitation fare.
After sitting through it I can only conclude that Run Hide Fight ended up streaming where it is because nobody else wanted it and Shapiro wanted to help a kindred political spirit out. This isn’t a political film, and it isn’t in bad enough taste to be offensive. It’s worse, it’s boring as fuck.