Saturday, 13 March 2021



Hitting the UK with a lot of problematic baggage, some thoroughly deserved, some less so, this throwback exploitationer never really rises above the basic back-of-a-fag-packet one-line concept of Die Hard In A High School. The serious sexual allegations made against certain individuals within the distribution company (who didn't actually produce the movie but bought the rights afterwards), together with the more politically conservative thrust of that distributor's mission statement, certainly weigh the movie down a little with controversies it doesn't need, which is a pity because taken as a straight-up shooty action movie it's perfectly alright: occasionally nasty, occasionally silly, a solid enough and slightly disreputable popcorn action flick.

Run Hide Fight is also burdened with the stench of bad taste regarding school shootings, but these senseless tragedies seem to happen so frequently that it's always too soon. It just so happens that one terrified but resourceful and gutsy student, Zoe (Isabel May) isn't in the school cafeteria when a quartet of her armed classmates crash their van through the wall and start shooting. Their motivations vary: mental illness, simmering revenge for old humiliations, a hunger for instant media fame. Zoe has to get as many other classes out of the building and to safety, take down the killers as she encounters them AND somehow save her semi-boyfriend who's been coerced into being the egotistical lead maniac's broadcaster and streaming his incoherent manifesto of blathering nonsense to the media, while at the same time coming to terms with the loss of her mother...

It's odd to see the Die Hard blueprint - everyone taken hostage except one who slips the net and, aided only by wit, grit and personal trauma, takes out the bad guys and saves the day - revisited after so many years. Eventually even Die Hard stopped following the Die Hard formula, and audiences got satiated with the basic idea and moved on, but it's also nice to see that subgenre revived, even if only briefly, as a nostalgic nod back to the late 80s and early 90s heyday of the Big Dumbo Action Movie. However, Run Hide Fight does open with the genuine killing of a deer for no reason other than it was supposedly cheaper than using special effects, and thus it has no business being there, or indeed existing in the first place. (Expect an obvious nip and tuck if and when the film comes to the BBFC because they are, quite rightly, very strict on that sort of thing.) Elsewhere, it's very uncritical of the Second Amendment, cheerfully playing the Good Guy With A Gun card and entirely glossing over how a group of clearly and demonstrably unstable teenagers have amassed their cache of weapons, ammunition and explosives. It's also slightly uncomfortable in its attitudes to mental illness: one of the killers is clearly seeing and hearing things and is suffering from serious psychological problems but in the end it's nothing that a bullet through the head can't solve.

It is a callous film, it has no more than the occasional trace of humour. As a Friday night dumb action rental it's perfectly passable: director Kyle Rankin also made Infestation and Night Of The Living Deb, both of which were kind of fun, and while this does have a darker and nastier tone to it it's still enjoyable; its earlier scenes building tension quite nicely. But if you're not comfortable supporting a distributor with an overtly right-wing agenda, staffed by people with numerous sexual misbehaviour (and worse) allegations against them, or a film which includes an entirely unjustified animal killing (I looked away as I knew it was coming), then Run Hide Fight may prove too problematic. Trying my best to be even-handed: I enjoyed the film itself just about enough, but would probably have enjoyed it another half-star's worth without those issues surrounding it.