You’ve got to be of a certain age or a cinephile to understand the term “B” movie. Originally used to identify the second feature on a double-bill (the first being the “A” movie), some studios maintained “A” and “B” production units, while other studios – like Monogram and Republic – produced nothing but low-budget features to satiate the film-going public’s appetite.
Westerns, science fiction and horror films, crime dramas, and series films like “The Bowery Boys” or Charlie Chan mysteries made up the bulk of second features. “B” movies often featured talent – both in front of and behind the camera – on their way up or on their way down the Hollywood ladder.
With the disappearance of the double feature, the term “B” movie became affixed to any cheaply produced programmer. Roger Corman, often dubbed “King of the B’s” for his prolific low-budget output in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, steadfastly refused the title as he adhered to the term’s original definition. The ‘70’s brough the era of the exploitation film, and the 80’s brought the video cassette revolution and what once could be identified as a “B” movie was now labeled “Direct-to-Video”.
“B” movie now can refer to the feel, tone, or subject matter of a film. Some big budget films come off as “B” movies, while some low budget, independently-produced films outshine their major studio counterparts. With streaming services like Netflix and Hulu having an insatiable need for new (and often exclusive) content, the “B” movie is making a comeback.
Which brings us to Run, now streaming exclusively on Hulu.
Run has all the hallmarks of a “B” movie – a short running time (90 minutes), a derivative plot (another “mother from hell”), and a TV-grade star (Sarah Paulson) leading a cast of unknowns.
The story of a young, wheelchair-bound girl (Kiera Allen) discovering to her horror that her mother (Paulson) isn’t who she thought she was (And the things that she’s doing to her!) is awfully Flowers in the Attic-y and has elements that served as a major plotline in Season 1 of Netflix’s The Politician. That doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining in its own pulpy sort of way.
Writer/Director Aneesh Chaganty (Searching) returns to the suspense genre with another script co-written by Sev Ohanian. There’s a lot less originality displayed here than in that previous film and it has more than the usual number of eye-rolling moments.
Give credit to Chaganty for casting a wheelchair-using actor in a wheelchair-using role – an all-too-uncommon occurrence – and Allen does fine in her film debut. Paulson delivers the standard psycho-mom performance.
“B” movies were never made for critical acclaim (though several earned it.) Their purpose was to entertain an audience and kill some time while canoodling in the balcony before the real movie started.
At that level, Run succeeds.
Run is streaming exclusively on Hulu.