(director/writer: Aneesh Chaganty; screenwriter: Sev Ohanian; cinematographer: Hillary Spera; editors: Nick Johnson, Will Merrick; music: Torin Borrowdale; cast: Sarah Paulson (Diane Sherman), Kiera Allen (Chloe Sherman), Onalee Ames (Crying Hands), Pat Healy (Tom), Carter Heintz (Nivea Boy), Sara Sohn (Kammy), Clark Webster (Loser); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Natalie Qasabian, Sev Ohanian; Hulu/Lionsgate; 2020)

“A provocative escape thriller skillfully directed and paced by Aneesh Chaganty.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A provocative escape thriller skillfully directed and paced by Aneesh Chaganty (“Searching”) and written with a fierce urgency by Sey Ohanian, with no holds barred in showing the many afflictions of the determined heroine who doesn’t want these handicaps to stop her from having as full a life as possible.Chaganty keeps ratcheting up the suspense as the tragedies continue to pile up on the vic. It successfully copies the mystery tropes Hitchcock used. In this one, a domineering single mom is actually scaring and abusing her child by suffocating her with the wrong kind of love and giving her the feeling she will never let go of her. If the theme reminds you of Stephen King’s “Misery,” it should. The disturbing film strongly suggests that being an “overprotective” parent can be just as bad as being a neglectful one.

For the past 17 years, the possessive single mom Diane Sherman (Sarah Paulson) has home-schooled her disabled and wheelchair-bound daughter Chloe (Kiera Allen, in real-life is in a wheelchair, with this being her film debut). Chloe suffers from a premature birth and having serious ailments such as being paralyzed from the waist down, being a diabetic and an asthmatic, and suffering from serious heart and skin issues. She also has no contact with the outside world, no phone, internet access or friends. The resourceful, bright and capable Chloe is excited waiting for an acceptance letter to the University of Washington, but fears her mom won’t let her go.

Eventually Chloe discovers mom, whom she has a trusting relationship with, has secretly been giving her a pill not prescribed by her doctor, and is being held a prisoner in her bedroom. Anxious to learn why mom is doing this, the daughter manages to escape from her locked bedroom to climb up on the roof of her farmhouse and enter mom’s room.

Things get resolved in the end, in this superior ‘a mother- from- hell’ film, one whereby the disabled Chloe uses her wits to deal with her tough life situation and she does it in a way that’s as real as the way the physically fit heroines in action pics might do it.


REVIEWED ON 11/22/2020  GRADE: B+