The Runner (2022)
Directed by: Augustus Muller, Boy Harsher, Jae Matthews
Written by: Augustus Muller, Boy Harsher, Jae Matthews
Starring: Aarron Ricks, Augustus Miller, Cooper B. Handy, Dylan Stamey, Jae Matthews, James Duval, Kris Esfandiari, Mariana Saldaña, Sigrid Lauren
THE RUNNER (2022)
Written and Directed by Boy Harsher
Streaming on Shudder
THE RUNNER is quite an unusual short film in that it combines music production with a horror story to produce a blended narrative that is both effective and mesmerising in its execution.
Kris Esfandiari takes on a classic Italian gothic horror seductress appeal, a la Barbara Steele, as the titular runner we see legging it through the woods during the opening scenes, whilst the haunting vocals of Jae Matthews backed by the moody synth work of Augustus Muller, collectively known as electronic music outfit Boy Harsher, act as the storyteller throughout the film’s 38 minute running time.
None of the ‘film’ characters utter dialogue but the music and lyrics are enough to carry the narrative along whilst the visuals bring to life the struggles our main character is going through. Every now and then, usually at the end of the track, we cut back to Matthews, Miller and other members of the musical act as they’re interviewed, documentary style, on their inspiration behind the music. Matthews also shares her thoughts on ‘the runner’ and how she can identify with her. As we see from the film, the runner isn’t without guilt, it would seem, as she regularly phones a man during times of anxiety and worry. Though we never see who’s on the other end of the phone, it sounds like it’s someone who wants to help the distressed woman.
THE RUNNER has a very late 70’s/early 80’s aesthetic to it and wouldn’t look out of place amongst the low budget horror produced during that era. We even have MTV-esque music videos aired on TVs dotted throughout the short film, introduced by Pam Dillis (played by Instagram comedian Lauren Servideo). Both the host and the subsequent performances on the videos are soooo 80’s, with Boy Harsher providing the music with Mariana Saldaña featured on track ‘Machina’, that it truly brings a certain vibe to the movie that is simultaneously surreal yet hypnotic and helps to craft the film into this unique blend of storytelling.
Incredible stylish and an assault on the senses, THE RUNNER is a triumph in bringing two mediums together and allowing them to share centre stage equally. As a fan of both horror and 80’s synth music, I couldn’t be more delighted to have come across this gem and the darkwave music of Boy Harsher.