THE RUNNER (2022)
Directed/Written by Boy Harsher, Jae Matthews, Augustus Muller.
Starring Kris Esfandari, Sigrid Lauren, Cooper B. Handy, Boy Harsher, Jae Matthews, Augustus Muller
Find out more about this film here!
THE RUNNER isn’t as much a film as it is an extended music video. It definitely falls into the realm of horror, but it is less of a straight forward narrative than it is a bunch of gory images and tension filled scenes. From what I can glean, the Runner (Kris Esfandari) is on the run, moving from town to town, place to place. What’s she running from? Not really sure. But she seems to have an urge to kill from time to time and does so in very intimate and gruesome ways. Without a real beginning or ending, THE RUNNER merely offers up a sequence of events in the middle of the Runner’s overall story. She begins on the run in one place and ends on the run in another. If you’re ok with that type of loosey-goosey narrative style, then THE RUNNER is going to be something you might want to peek at.
The thing is, the entire short film offers up quite a few songs from the retro-synth band Boy Harsher. The band consists of a singer (Jae Matthews) and synth musician (Augustus Muller). Their sound resembles the DRIVE soundtrack which oozed with retro-vibes. I find this type of music to be a lot of fun, sensual, entrancing, makes you want to sway from side to side, though it is very repetitious. The sound feels like the dour and dangerous coiled cobra in the corner vibe that matches the character of the Runner perfectly, so there’s a synergy between sound and image here.
Things do get gory and it turns out some kind of supernatural thing is going on with the Runner. Though she doesn’t have any lines, Kris Esfandari is striking visually and reminds me of a young Kathleen Keener. If you miss the era of music videos as I do, where experimental storytelling was much more accepted and things don’t need an “Ending Explained” video made to understand it, then THE RUNNER might be your jam. It only runs about 40 minutes and I found each of Boy Harsher’s songs more entertaining than the next. It would make an interesting pairing with Carpenter Brut’s BLOOD MACHINES short music-centric feature also released on Shudder last year. Maybe bigger plans are in the works for the Runner, possibly a full-length feature. If so, cool, I’m interested in this experimental music/story mish-mash style. If not, THE RUNNER as is—is a strong extended experimental music video with images and tunes that’ll resonate in your brain long after it’s over.