If you are a horror-thriller buff, you will thoroughly enjoy Aneesh Chaganty’s Run. The movie is a psychological thriller directed by Aneesh Chaganty and starring Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen. Run was released on Hulu in November 2020 and quickly gained popularity due to its suspenseful plot and outstanding performances by the cast.
Some people have drawn parallels between the film and the real-life story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who fabricated Gypsy’s array of illnesses for years.
So, is Run based on a true story? Here’s what we know.
Run, The Movie: What Is It About?
Let’s recap before exploring whether Run is based on a true story. Hulu’s Run tells the story of a teenager who uses a wheelchair, Chloe (Kiera Allen), who suspects that her mother could be hiding a dark secret about her health and true identity.
The narrative explores the seemingly picture-perfect relationship between mother and daughter. Diane is an extremely organized mother who fastidiously cares for her wheelchair-bound daughter. Their routine includes administering medication and physical therapy and spending hours homeschooling Chloe. Like the ideal mother, Diane also grows her own vegetables and cooks healthy foods, ensuring that she controls everything pertaining to her one and only child.
Chloe, on the other hand, is evidentially smart. She spends many hours in her bedroom working on intricate engineering problems despite not having any real access to a mobile phone or the internet like a normal teenager, which she begins to find odd.
The older she gets, the more suspicious her mother’s behavior becomes. Chloe doubts that she has any of the diseases her mother insists she does and begins to protest against the invasive treatments her mother got doctors to administer.
Despite her mom insisting that she supports her daughter’s desire to join the University of Washington, which is four hours away, Chloe gets the sense that her mother really doesn’t want her to leave her and the isolated home in which they’d been living alone for years.
Run is a story about a young girl who, after years of isolation by her mother, seeks to break free from the yokes of deceit in which her mother had entangled her. Soon, things take a dark turn as Chloe discovers the truth: Diane had kidnapped her from the hospital as an infant and, for years, led everyone to believe that her ”daughter” had an array of illnesses that limited her ability to walk and talk.
At the end of the fictional carer abuse movie, Diane pays for her crimes and ends up in jail. Chloe manages to smuggle Ridocaine, a local anesthetic she administers to her mother, the same way her mom did during those hazy, isolated years.
How Much of “Run” Is Real?
While it sounds unbelievable that someone would abuse someone in their care, this happens to millions of people, especially those with a disability.
The movie seems to imply that Diane suffers from Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA). This mental illness, also known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP), is an extremely serious form of child abuse in which the caregiver, usually the mother, subjects the victim to horrors of abuse by making up all kinds of symptoms or even causing actual diseases, making her child seem sick. While such behavior seems morose, the goal for the perpetrator is to gain attention, sympathy, or both.
Run, which also streams on Netflix outside of the USA, is not based on any one real-life story. But the movie does an excellent job of uncovering something often hidden in plain sight: stories about the carer abuse of disabled people.
The movie’s writer and director, Aneesh Chaganty, also the mind behind the psychological thriller, Searching, insists that Run is not based on one real story. Rather, he sought to highlight the plight of victims of carer abuse. Even though we don’t hear of them much, there are real-life cases of people with real experiences of abuse.
Drawing Parallels: The True Story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard
If you’ve watched The Act or are familiar with the disturbing story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, you might wonder whether it was the inspiration behind Hulu’s Run. Admittedly, the two stories are eerily similar.
From the day Claudinne “Dee Dee” Blanchard gave birth to her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard, she claimed her infant child had a barrage of illnesses, including sleep apnea, leukemia, muscle dystrophy, hearing and hearing and visual impairment, and asthma, among others.
Even more disheartening is that Dee Dee physically abused her daughter in private while presenting herself as a caring, concerned, and perfect mother to a disabled child.
Wanting to free herself from her abusive mother, Gypsy organized for her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, to kill Dee Dee, whom police later found face down in her blood-soaked bed. Gypsy and her boyfriend elope, but authorities catch up with them, and they are eventually found guilty of murder; Gypsy was sentenced to 10 years in prison and is due for parole in 2024, while Godejohn was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Dee Dee Blanchard was diagnosed after her death, and it was clear to doctors that the former nurse aide suffered from FDIA.
Although Gypy’s story is different from that one told about Chloe, we can all agree that these stories bear a striking resemblance. The fictional Chloe sought freedom from an overbearing mother who faked her daughter’s barrage of illnesses.
Although she did not have her mother murdered, as in Gypsy’s case, she fought tooth and nail to expose her. Ultimately, she took her personalized revenge by administering the local anesthetic, Ridocaine, leaving her imprisoned mother in a vegetative state.
So, there you have it: Run is not based on Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s story or any true story, for that matter. The two stories, one fictional and the other real, are strikingly similar, but Run derives its premise from the lived reality of people with disabilities in general who suffer at the hands of their carers.
We should note that Kiera Allen is a real wheelchair user, so she was a perfect choice for the role of Chloe in Run. Casting Allen gives Run a very authentic feel at a time when equality and inclusion are such rife topics in our communities.
Empowering Chloe so that she isn’t portrayed as a victim of circumstances helps support the narrative that disabled persons are just normal people abled differently– like Chloe, they can be smart, witty, resilient, and stand up for themselves.