School Violence Commentary Done A Different Way: Run Hide Fight (2020) Movie Review

Saturday, August 21, 2021


Film poster for Run Hide Fight featuring the cast

There is a recurring theme on this blog of me watching or reading things with absolutely no knowledge of said thing beforehand. I always mention how I need to stop doing that...and yet here we are again. Run Hide Fight has a lot of controversy surrounding it. It is a school shooting film, so that was to be expected, but from the company that owns the distribution rights to the people who made the film, it is all just a big 'ol mess. I debated whether or not to go into all this stuff. The intention was a quick movie review, not a full-on discussion about politics or people being awful. I do think that there are people who will want that information if they don't have it before watching this film. At the same time though, I also think that some, if not all, of the information, will prevent people from giving it a chance. However, I don't think I can review this film without adding this information for some context and it is an absolute shame because I did enjoy this movie. This is gonna be a long one if you have no interest in the background information, just scroll down until you see an image that says "review starts here".

This movie review contains spoilers. The background information contains mentions of sexual assault and harassment, animal cruelty, and violence. The film itself contains violence and is about a very sensitive topic. If these things are too upsetting for you to read about, please take care of your mental health and just skip this review.

Run Hide Fight made its premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 10th, 2020. The Daily Wire bought the distribution rights for the film in The United States and premiered it on their streaming service on January 14th, 2021. 

For those who are unaware, The Daily Wire is a conservative news and media company based in Nashville, Tennessee. It was founded in 2015 by Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing. Before premiering the film on their platform, it was announced in January 2021 that The Daily Wire would begin developing films and tv shows to provide conservatives an alternative to the "leftist" culture that is promoted elsewhere. Run Hide Fight, is their first offering, even though the film was completed before the company became involved. After The Daily Wire acquired American distribution rights, assistant director Cristen Haynes requested for her name to be removed from the film's credits.

From The Daily Beast

“Is there a way to remove your name from a crew list?” asks Cristen Leah Haynes, the film’s additional second assistant director. “If I’d known… I’ve never wanted to take my name off of a project more.”

Run Hide Fight was produced by Bonfire Legend, which was founded by Dallas Sonnier. Sonnier is most known as the guy who started Cinestate (known for low-budget horror films such as 2019's Satanic Panic) and for publishing Fangoria from 2018 to 2020. I had trouble finding information since Bonfire Legend is so new, but it seems it is just a rebranding of Cinestate. The reason for this rebranding seems to be due to one of their main film producers, Adam Donaghey, who was arrested in 2020 for suspicion of sexual assault and the fallout that came after.


"Donaghey’s subsequent arrest on a charge of sexual assault of a child exposed an open secret in the Dallas film community. Sonnier and others had for years downplayed Donaghey’s behavior. There was an audio recording of Donaghey attempting to solicit sexual favors from a crew member of a film he worked on in 2014; the recording had circulated in the local film community."

"After Donaghey’s arrest, further allegations against Cinestate surfaced on social media and in the press. There were stories about sexual misconduct on multiple productions—a female star having to perform sex scenes with a friend of one of the movie’s producers who was subbed into the shoot at the last minute, a male star harassing women in the makeup trailer, an extra being groped on set. And there were allegations of dangerous conditions on Cinestate’s shoots, the most serious of which involved the production of VFW in 2019, when extras claimed they were beaten and bloodied by star actors while shooting the film’s fight scenes. "

From The Daily Beast

"Donaghey served as executive producer of Run Hide Fight, although the credit has since been removed from the film’s publicity materials and its IMDb page."

Run Hide Fight begins with a scene showing a father teaching his daughter how to hunt. 

From Dallas Observer

"The movie doesn't have the usual "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" reminder at the end of its closing credits because the movie's producers arranged for a professional hunter to kill the animal so they could film it, according to several people who worked on the film."

 "Dallas Sonnier, the founder of Bonfire Legend and Cinestate who produced Run Hide Fight, confirmed the deer was shot on camera and notes that all proper precautions were taken and hunting regulations were followed. The deer was killed in October 2019 on private property in Red Oak under the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP), a permitted hunting program that allows landowners to shoot deer foraging on their property for harvesting or conservation purposes. "

The knowledge of this caused another crew member, Traci Murdock, to make a request not to be included in the film's credits.

From Dallas Observer

"I'm not sure I want my credit on it because I don't want any perception of that at all for, A, moral reasons and, B, it's not something you do in the industry," Murdock says. "You know the tagline, 'No animals were harmed?' Everybody goes by that even if you don't have that tagline on the movie. You can't even have animals giving birth. You can't show bulls getting their ears tagged. That kind of stuff is not done. The standard is you're not supposed to kill something, period."

Now we can begin the review...

banner showing where the movie review starts

Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 1 hour 49 minutes
Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Thriller
Released: September 10th, 2020
Directed by: Kyle Rankin
Written by: Kyle Rankin
Starring: Isabel May, Radha Mitchell, Thomas Jane, Eli Brown

Run Hide Fight is a strange one, especially when you know all the stuff mentioned above. We follow the main character, seventeen-year-old Zoe Hull, played by Isabel May, as she goes to school on student prank day. These pranks fall heavily into the stereotypical and not at all realistic cliche that 40+-year-olds keep writing for some reason. During lunch, Zoe has an argument with her friend Lewis, played by Olly Sholotan, that results in a drink accidentally spilling on her jacket. She leaves to the bathroom to clean it off, and while doing so has an interaction with someone we later find out is one of the shooters. Before she is able to return to the cafeteria, three other shooters use a van to storm in through the windows. Instead of going on a shooting spree, like you would expect of this type of movie, they take everyone that didn't get run over or shot in the initial chaos as hostages. First Zoe runs, then she hides, then she escapes (yup)....and then she goes back into the school to fight (...yup). OH, and the only people that know anything is wrong are the people in the cafeteria. Throughout the rest of the school, classes are going along normally. No one heard the crash of the van driving in, no one heard the screams, and no one heard the gunshots. One could possibly argue that although they heard everything, they just assumed it was a this day and age? Really? 

Anyway, we have four attackers in this film. The leader of the group is Tristan Voy, played by Eli Brown. His motivations for this attack on his school are never really explained. At one point he mentions the fame (or infamy) and another that he just likes to be the absolute best at everything. The way he walks and explains things basically makes him a cheap Joker character. There is also Chris and Anna Jelick, played by Britton Sear and Catherine Davis. Both are apparently in a romantic relationship with Tristan. Chris was given the mental health cliche and is seen talking to "something" several times. As for Anna, you obviously can't have Joker without Harley Quinn right? Dressed in the typical goth/emo style and with a major chip on her shoulder, she does most of the recon for the group. Then there's Kip Quade, played by Cyrus Arnold. He's the stereotypical quiet nerd who has been bullied most of his life. His reason for helping Tristan, Chris, and Anna is because, in elementary school, someone pulled down his pants in front of everyone. He's been paranoid about people laughing around him ever since.

image comparing die hard and run hide fight by showing the main characters of both films crawling in a vent
It's the vents for both of you! 

Now, I don't want to spoil the entire film just in case someone reading this does decide to watch it. The most common way people have described Run Hide Fight is this: Die Hard in high school. If you ignore all the politics and the fact that school shootings happen regularly here in the United States, and instead just think of it as an action thriller, it's a decent and entertaining film. The acting is great. The cinematography...great. The writing is awful...but the cast makes it work (mostly). People are dying and being traumatized, but no one curses in the entire film. They do have a moment of pointless female nudity though, so the conservative stance has become even more confusing for me. F-bombs? absolutely not...that's dirty. Forcing a woman to take off her shirt so you can see her boobs? Totally okay. The story itself is completely unrealistic. The amount of planning involved, the number of shooters involved, the lack of competence by all the adults.... it's all nonsense. Coming from a pro-gun point of view (based on the people and companies involved) you would assume it to be some sort of propaganda...and I think it tries...but just falls flat.

From iilluminaughtii's review

"It's like the shooter's entire motivation is to prove that the school can't help you, not without a good guy with a gun, like Zoe."

Examples of this come mostly from our main villain, Tristan. Upon exiting the van after ramming it into the cafeteria, he proceeds to say "trigger warning". He also later mentions something about "the wall"  (yeah...Trump's) among other things that instead of making him seem like an edgy, woke leftist....just make him sound like a conservative. I'm sure this definitely wasn't the intention though. The only obviously LGBTQ+ characters...are villains (trademark conservatism there my friends). The goth/emo girl...villain. The nerd Kip is given a chance to redeem himself so that just makes me think that maybe that's the character the writer identified with the most. There is no empathy in this movie and it is hard to ignore how insensitive it is to actual survivors of these tragedies (no surprise there though). I do, however, think that the way they called out the media and the way we publicize how police and schools are meant to react in an active shooter situation was done pretty well. The more details a potential shooter has about what doors are locked, who is where, the chain of command...etc...the easier it makes things for them. The instantaneous live feeds that the media manages to get showing live in these events are just as disrespectful as the people saying the events are false flags. You can tell the news and keep people updated without showing and taking advantage of the trauma unfolding.

It is funny...I keep mentioning how I enjoyed this film but the majority of what I have to say is ripping it apart. Is this something that would make it in the mainstream? Absolutely not. Hollywood doesn't like tackling the subject of school shootings unless it is showing the aftermath (ex. We Need To Talk About Kevin). As I mentioned in my book review for If I Don't Make It, I Love You by Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman, I have had a morbid interest in these tragedies since I was a kid. That's what drew my interest to Run Hide Fight. It is not the first movie or documentary on this topic that I have watched and it won't be the last.  Have I ever seen a film take on the subject the way this one does? No. So in that sense, you could think of it as being somewhat refreshing...but again, you have to be completely closed off to real-world events to be comfortable saying that. This movie has inspired me to consider dusting off my collection (yes...I know it's weird) of movies like this so that I can compare them with refreshed memories. If I post a list featuring school shooting films (and which ones are worth watching) sometime soon....this is the cause. 

Rob @Stoned Gremlin Productions

"There's a decent movie trying to claw its way out of this mess."

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 6/10

Film Information: IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Meta Critic

The style of this review ended up being a little different than what I normally do. I have used many more quotes and sources and did a ton more research compared to most of my other reviews. I really thought before watching Run Hide Fight that I would be able to just watch, write a quick review and then move on to the ARC I need to read. However, the reality is that I ended up with pages of notes, way too many tabs open in my browser, and several bookmarks that I'm going to have to clear out, now that this is done.  I would also like to quickly note that based on the reviews given by members of the conservative demographic this film was targeted at, it has been received very well, at one point having an 8+ star rating on IMDB. 

While doing the research to find out about the mess behind this movie, I came across a few other reviews on youtube that I found to be very well thought out and I would like to share those now, even though 2/3 are negative reviews.

Ben Shapiro's School Shooter Movie That No One Wanted by iilluminaughtii

Run Hide Fight, Looking at The Daily Wire's First Movie by Jose

Run Hide Fight - Midnight Screenings Review by Stoned Gremlins Productions

I would also recommend that anyone wanting to know more about all of the scandals and controversies surrounding this film check out the following:

From The Daily Beast:

The Ugly Backstory of Ben Shapiro’s First Movie ‘Run Hide Fight’

How a Right-Wing Movie Studio Enabled the ‘Harvey Weinstein’ of Indie Film

From Dallas Observer:

Did Bonfire Legend Go Too Far by Shooting a Live Deer for Run Hide Fight?


Cinestate’s #MeToo Scandal and the Upheaval of the Dallas Film Scene

If you made it all the way down are a champ. Thank you for taking the time to read this review. 🥰

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