Written by: Joseph Guzman and Robert James Hayes II
Directed by: Joseph Guzman
Starring: Christina DeRosa, Cheryl Lyone, Peter Tahoe, and Ivet Corvea
Reviewed by: Brett G.
”Lord, if I weren’t so righteous, I’d pound them harder than the nails on the cross.”
During the past 40 years, the horror genre has given rise to the exploitation film, a genre largely dedicated to shocks over substance, gratuitous sex and violence, and a willingness to push the envelope at every turn. Among this movement, a more specific type of film slowly emerged and evolved into its own sub-genre: the rape/revenge film. Films such as The Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave, Thriller, and Ms. 45 delivered a healthy dose of each, as innocent young women were placed in perilous sexual situations before their attackers met their violent, vengeful demise. Oddly enough, some of these films (particularly I Spit) have become regarded as post-feminist texts that exhibit the empowerment of the female and the figurative (yet sometimes literal) emasculation of the male. While it’s no doubt interesting to examine such films in this regard, they also work on a more basic level of exploiting the more despicable corners of human nature and then punishing such behavior. For as grim and nihilistic as many of these films are, there’s a strange sense of reassurance and reinforcement of the notion that bad deeds indeed do not go unpunished. It is into this tradition that director Joseph Guzman steps with the aptly titled Run, Bitch, Run.
Rebecca and Catherine are two Catholic school girls charged with the task of selling Bibles to raise funds for their school. After spending the night in a motel, they are directed to the town of Moseley, where they encounter a brothel full of deranged individuals who kill without remorse and hesitation. Arriving just in time to witness a pimp murder one of his girls, Rebecca and Catherine are taken captive and subjected to various degrading acts. Catherine manages to escape with her life and emerges from the hospital as a mute avenger hell-bent on the destruction of those who wronged her and her friend.
Run, Bitch, Run easily sidles in beside its predecessors in its willingness to be gratuitous at nearly every turn. The aforementioned exploitation titans didn’t become revered so much for their technical prowess as much as their unrelenting and gratuitous content, and Guzman’s film is no different. In addition to the obvious rape, there’s also lesbian sex, corpse sex (eat your heart out, Rob Zombie), a dash of nunsploitation, drug-use, female masturbation via a plunger, and even a toe-sucking scene that would make Quentin Tarantino’s head explode like Superfly TNT. There’s no shortage of crass language and overall bad taste; in other words, it’s exactly what you expect from a film like this. There’s very little pretense or surprises to the proceedings, and the film very much feels like a throw-back to the films that informed it.
While Run, Bitch, Run doesn’t exactly capture the overall tone of those films, it carries the same sort of lo-fi and raw aesthetic that has become associated with these types of films. Production values are generally low and there’s little in the way of outstanding film-making here, from the somewhat bland cinematography and the soundtrack that sounds like it was rejected from a porn flick. That said, everything is at least competent, and the film at least succeeds on the level of befitting its material with its grittiness and griminess. Acting is expectedly spotty, and ranging from decent to downright amateurish and over-the-top at times. The highlight here is without a doubt Cheryl Lyone who displays a nice amount of range in the role of Catherine. Beginning as a mousy, reserved school girl, she eventually descends into a silent avenger; Lyone particularly handles the latter well, as she’s able to convey a sense of fire and vengeance without speaking a word. Interestingly enough (or not), fans will notice Daeg Faerch (of Rob Zombie’s Halloween fame) and his mother in throwaway cameo roles that add little to the film.
Surprisingly, the film’s biggest misstep is in the way of its violence. While it obviously isn’t devoid of violence, it feels rather tame and restrained when compared to all of the other exploitative material the film has to offer. There is one particularly heinous, post-rape act that’s implied and one of the climactic death scenes is disgustingly memorable, but everything in between is a relatively dry affair that never reaches the heights of its more famous predecessors. And while it’s no doubt entertaining to see Catherine dole out vicious justice to everyone that deserves it, this final sequence is somewhat hampered by a couple of extraneous filler scenes; granted, this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the source material, but the film just sort of drifts to its conclusion and never feels intense enough. There are some nice jolts and shocks strewn throughout, but the film ultimately feels like a collection of depraved and absurd behavior with very little payoff.
If you’ve been able to stomach (I hesitate to say “enjoyed”) previous rape/revenge films, then Run, Bitch, Run will likely prove to be a decent time-waster and satisfy your need to see rapists get their comeuppance. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but films like this rarely are anymore, given that horror audiences have had everything and the bloodied, battered kitchen sink thrown at them at this point. I suppose it’s interesting that one of the aggressors in this film is also a woman, but this is never thoughtfully explored in any way, as that character merely becomes another road-block for Catherine. At any rate, the film has just enough zany material to hold your attention, and Lyone’s performance is as fun to watch as any others of its type, no matter how uninventive or cliché it is at this point. Vicious Circle will be bringing this one to home video on December 8th by way of Breaking Glass Films. Their promotional material promises anamorphic video and a 2.0 Dolby Soundtrack that should be an improvement on the already solid screener they sent my way. Special features will also include a short film entitled “Killer Nuns with Big Guns,” a trailer, and a photo gallery. A briskly-moving if unremarkable little thriller, this one doesn’t achieve greatness, but I’m not so sure it was aiming for it in the first place. If you must seek it out, walk, don’t run, to this particular bitch. Rent it!
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