by Paul Deeter
TW: School Shootings.
Dear Kyle Rankin,
I've been following your film Run Hide Fight for a little bit now, with ads on Youtube and the occasional review shared on IG or Facebook. I'm aware your film began streaming in January of this year, and can understand why it's getting some legs, months later. With a 42% Rotten Tomatoes critical response, and an impressive 93% audience rating, this movie could genuinely take off past its soft release. The critical consensus lies ambiguously enough that some reviewers admire the film's suspense based on its controversial premise. The premise being centered around an American school's fight against school shooters, with an unlikely female protagonist at the center. While other reviewers, to put it bluntly, hate you or your film. And let's read some negative reviews. Steve Warner from In Review states... "everyone involved in the making of this film, and those who find enjoyment in such lowest-common-denominator “entertainment,” can go fuck themselves." Jessica Kiang of the Playlist says: "So somebody somewhere one day had a thought: “What if ‘Die Hard’ except a school shooting?” and not only didn’t they immediately check themselves for other symptoms of lead poisoning but thought, “Yep, that’s a winner” and went on to make the movie."
But hey, publicity is publicity right? Especially after over twenty years of irrelevance in the Hollywood circuit, with the exception of the well received Night of the Living Deb (2015) picture. Uwe Boll is around for his terrible movies and his penchant for controversy, and to most disdain, he isn't really going anywhere. But one wonders if the man who directed Postal, which features jokes from baby-killing to 9/11 and other horrid topics, isn't at least a little aware he is ruffling some feathers. Especially after he titled it after a similarly controversial game series. More than one reviewer certainly has told him to fuck off, he's even been known to literally take these critics on in the boxing ring to hash it out.
But I believe, and maybe I'm wrong, that you think you made a good movie. I'm one to speak, I haven't seen it. But as these movies exist for controversy, such as A Serbian Film beckons its viewers to dive into its depravity, they aren't for me. I understand movies like Irreversible and Salo: 120 Days of Sodom actually exhibit talented filmmaking and political relevance. But Run Hide Fight is one of the most horrible ideas I've ever heard of on film, and I know what goes down in A Serbian Film (yuck). I'm not here to tell you to go fuck yourself. What I want to know is why? Why did you use your platform as a director to make a suspense film centered around a school shooting? Are you completely nuts? Or do you just victim-hate? The concept of this film is off to make the protagonist a fighter, an example of true heroism in the face of the evil of school shooters. But in the process you not only disrespect the victims of actual shootings, but everyone involved too, family members, teachers, etc.
I can’t remember exactly where this idea came from but there’s an unspoken rule that films based on real life tragedies should wait a certain amount of set years before being released. I think the rule is either 5 years or 10 years for example pending said tragedy, an example being Paul Greengrass‘ film United 93. Five years after the horrible attack on 9/11, one of the planes involved in the highjacking, Flight 93, was overtaken by its passengers who bravely redirected the plane from its intended target and sacrificed their lives in the act. At the same time a TV movie named Flight 93. While it could be argued that this 5 year wait time was the cause of 2006 being the year both these films came out, but their intended message per film was out of respect for the victims of the flight. I think Greengrass knew he’d be treading careful ground, especially considering how his penchant for action comes from his successful Jason Bourne series. But United 93 is a good movie, at least in my opinion. The film was almost universally acclaimed, including in New York... United 93 premiered on April 26, 2006, at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, a festival founded to celebrate New York City as a major filmmaking center and to contribute towards the long-term recovery of Lower Manhattan. Several family members of the passengers aboard the flight attended the premiere to show their support. This is amazing considering how heavy the film gets, and a truly difficult accomplishment by Greengrass.
The film’s efforts were to honor the victims and carefully tell their story. Therefore, it used 5 years of time to let our nation breathe, and pulled off a feature that actually was handled carefully. So let's use the film Slender Man as an example of what is not a careful subject to cover. It’s a common Internet creepypasta, a fable of unknown origin that went viral. It tells the horrifying story of a tall elongated man who hunts children in the woods. It’s a very popular story for video-game adaptation, so a movie was inevitable, right? Well the release of the film happened a few years after a Wisconsin tragedy occurred, where two teenage girls stabbed a fellow classmate nearly to death because the Slender Man required a sacrifice. I should specify, that this movie does not cover that act, in fact there’s a really good documentary on HBO about the story I recommend, Beware the Slenderman. As it is for certain movie ideas and adaptations, there can be coincidences, and I believe that perhaps the Slender Man movie was in production or in talks around the same time that the stabbings occurred in 2014. And Slender Man (2018) is not about these two girls, or the influence this fabled creature has on the psychologically troubled, it's just a bad monster movie. That being said, Slender Man did not grace any of our Marcus Theatres in Milwaukee, and the attack occurred in Waukesha, miles away. I believe this was smart, because even trailers for this movie could have stricken a nerve for those close to the assault. Imagine how insensitive a local release could be.
Despite a Venice Film Festival release, your movie made its way into North American audiences, with the distributor The Daily Wire (shame on them, too). In theaters that may have been in proximity to local schools that suffered from these events. I couldn't find a mapping of the release locations of Run Hide Fight but despite a limited release, I can assume some victim states saw this movie on the marquee. I believe, the country as a whole is constantly healing from school shootings on a regular basis. There is no 5-year rule. There never will be. Gus Van Sant made Elephant in 2006, years after the Columbine shootings on the same subject. His film was artful and respective, but still seen as problematic. A few TV shows have handled this topic, including Degrassi, which was sensitive enough to offer a support line for safety, something I'm pretty sure your movie does not exhibit. Why did you decide to milk this topic for thrills. I mean that's what you're doing, argument or not. You chose to make a thriller, about a school shooting. Just like a horror film of a haunted cabin chased by a killer, or an action movie about a hijacking. The victims in this film, the ones you chose to disrespect, are children. And you're normalizing the concept to be used in other films. Maybe it was a concept too controversial that someone had to cover it. I guess that someone had to be you.
I want you to know that I'm not close to any of these incidents, and am lucky for it. I know people are going to see that this movie is out, maybe stumble upon the trailer or a poster unwillingly, and that will upset them. Maybe even trigger a bad memory, or cause a traumatic response. No amount of a TW can be put on a film this abhorrent. And by letting it loose into theatres, you've broken a rule, a sacred protection to victims of common decency. Was it worth it? I guess streaming numbers will tell, or the box office or rental rate. Kyle, I'm not telling you to go fuck yourself, I'm simply asking why you did it. Shame on you.
You should issue a public apology, pull this movie from any streaming services, and offer any profits from this movie to victims of these events. Children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. You've caused harm, but you can fix it, and make up for your actions.
Be better than this.