GORE IN THE STORE
RUN HIDE FIGHT **
Directed by Kyle Rankin.
Starring Isabel May, Thomas Jane, Eli Brown.
Action, US, 109 minutes.
Released by Vertigo Releasing
Reviewed as part of Arrow Video FrightFest, Glasgow Film Festival ‘21.
RUN HIDE FIGHT contains the kind of premise that a number of other screenwriters and directors have no doubt come up with, that of a high school shooting filtered through an action movie lens, and then immediately file away after the realisation of how bad an idea that would be in an age where news reports carry the distressing imagery of children and their teachers fleeing for their lives from school buildings while grieving parents struggle with the fact that their own offspring have been slaughtered with depressingly regularity. Kyle Rankin however casts off any doubts and throws this dispiritingly cynical excuse for an action movie that contains no serious insight or examination into the grave effects or motivations of such a horrifying situation.
Isabel May plays seventeen-year-old Zoe, a girl who is not afraid of using firearms or messily putting a hunted down deer out of its misery. These survival skills, as well as her no nonsense attitude, prepare her more than most, for the shocking attack led by Tristan and his three cohorts when they drive a van straight into the canteen and immediately start picking off students and staff with their high-powered weaponry. Zoe scrambles into survival mode and tries to warn the rest of the school before standing up to these homicidal students as the forces of law and order struggle to get a handle on the situation from outside.
Why Tristan is carrying out this massacre is never really explained or examined, just one of many missteps that the film accomplishes. With his smarmy nature and need to talk at length, without explaining anything, he comes across as nothing more than a standard B-movie villain, while his henchmen are further characterised as one being female, the other hears voices and the last one was made fun of for being overweight when he was younger. They are barely written plot devices more than actual fleshed out characters. Zoe however does come across as someone with a past and inner life and is nicely played by Isabel May while she is nicely complimented by Thomas Jane as her fiercely protective father. What could have been a pair of reactionary gun toting figures are easily the most interesting characters the film has to offer, a pity then that they could not have existed in a more stimulating or thought-provoking film.
The films other impressive feature is its slick photography which manages to depict a once vibrant high school as a claustrophobic staging ground for sudden violence. The pace rattles along smoothly as well which shows that Rankin could be capable of delivering an action flick with a decent script and not one that relies wholly on its shaky foundations.
The fact that the cast also contains Barbara Crampton and Treat Williams as a science teacher and sheriff respectively and does absolutely nothing with them is also further evidence that the film has next to no idea of what to do with itself. Those looking for transgressive thrills in the vein of BATTLE ROYALE would be better sticking with that film which took a similarly unsound premise but managed to do something with it on every level with skill and verve. Take away the controversial setting of RUN HIDE FIGHT and all you are left with is a run of the mill hijack film with no interesting characters or anything new or interesting to say or show.