Run Sweetheart Run (2022)//Story Structure

Directed by Shana Feste

Written by Shana Feste, Keith Josef Adkins, Kellee Terrell

ACT 1: 00:00-30:00

Sequence 1 = 00:00-18:39

Office: CHERIE’s report of overheard harassment is ignored–>Bus: Phone call with boss (James)–He says she double-booked him, tells her to take client meeting in his place//harassed by man on bus–>Home: establish her daughter, friend comes over to babysit while Cherie takes client meeting–>Meets client (ETHAN) at his lavish home–>Sushi dinner (she warms to him)–>Roller skating together (she’s smitten with him)–>Returns home with him, is beaten up (off-screen) and runs away. Title Card: RUN!

We open with CHERIE, a young receptionist at a high-powered law firm. She is assigned to cover for her boss and meet with an important client: ETHAN. She meets him in his home (big no go from me), is strangely taken by his supposed charms (though played by Game of Thrones actor Pilou Asbæk he quickly comes across as unsettling) and then any illusions of a work meeting quickly vanish. This is a date.

They get sushi, rollerblade and soon after Cherie returns home with him. As she heads inside, Ethan turns to the camera and tells “us” to stop. The door closes and we remain there while we hear fighting and screaming inside. Then Cherie rushes out the door, beaten and cut up.

Over a freeze frame we see: RUN!

INCITING INCIDENT: Ethan suddenly attacks Cherie.

Sequence 2 = 18:39-30:25

Runs around streets/no one helps (no one believes her claims of being attacked)–>Picked up by Police–>Holding Cell: Another woman recognizes her story, becomes terrified. Says her friend was attacked by the same man and disappeared. She tells Cherie she needs to find “The First Lady.”–>Ethan shows up, tells her they’re playing a (deadly) game–>Police say she made bail and kick her out into the street where she is unprotected.

Sequence 2 begins with Cherie running away. She clearly has new motivation: Get the f*ck away from Ethan who, in a matter of seconds, did a 180 and revealed himself to be a monster (this is an effective turn in the script but I wouldn’t say the same of the movie, as Pilou Asbæk reeks of villainy from the moment we see him).

Cherie finds no help from the people she encounters out about town, and she is quickly arrested for public intoxication.

Inside of a holding cell she strikes up conversation with another woman who, when Cherie tells her story, recognizes Ethan and says she should be terrified: Her friend met this man and disappeared. ‘Find The First Lady,’ this woman says.

Soon after Ethan appears, demonstrating his absolute power. While Cherie’s claims are ignored (just as in the first scene of the movie), Ethan is unquestioned and allowed to do as he pleases.

Ethan intimidates Cherie and says: “The only thing that matters now is our little game… I’m gonna hunt you, and if you make it through the night then I’m gonna let you live.”

LOCK IN: Cherie, defenseless & alone, is hunted by Ethan.

ACT 2: 30:26-1:18:32

Sequence 3 = 30:26-41:04

Creepy nighttime streets/hails a cab to her boss’ home–>Boss takes her in and comforts her–>Showers, digs through boss’ computer, figures out this isn’t the first time he has sent a woman to Ethan to do w/ as he pleases–>runs away, hops on a bus

Okay so now we know what’s up: first the game of the movie (the “fun & games” if you will) as well as Ethan’s game. Cherie walks outside, physically free but terrified of everything around her, specifically men. A homeless man, at first a cab driver, they are all now suspects in this twisted game, the limits of which she doesn’t yet know.

Her first course of action is to go see her boss, JAMES, and tell him what happened. James and his wife JUDY (Betsy Brandt) comfort Cherie and claim to be on her side, but it’s clear something is off….

After showering and cleaning up, Cherie looks through James laptop and sees the folloowing event on his calendar: “ETHAN TITHE W/ CHERIE.” After a quick search she finds dozens, maybe even hundreds of calendar holds for “ETHAN TITHE W/ [WOMAN’S NAME].”

A moment later Judy enters and tells Cherie to hide her scent, because that’s how Ethan tracks her.

So it’s clear, if it wasn’t already: she can’t trust her boss.

James: “I just need you to trust me.”

She steps away and another RUN! appears onscreen with a dramatic sting. So Cherie flees.

Sequence 4 = 41:05-1:01:12

On bus: Calls TREY (ex-boyfriend)–>convenience store, gets a tampon/creepy bathroom–>Ethan attacks her suddenly/She gets away by hitting him with a brick–>Trey picks her up–>takes her home (where his GF and friends (incl. NORLON) hangout)–>Norlon reads her tarot card (ominous)–>Ethan arrives, kills everybody–>Trey returns home, Ethan bites his head off = He’s vampire. Title Card: RUN!

At this point Cherie’s goal is the same, to flee. But the added drama is that she doesn’t know who she can trust. She escapes on a bus, calls her ex-boyfriend (TREY) and then waits for him at a convenience store. There are a few nice atmospheric touches (flickering bathroom lights, naked nighttime streets) before Ethan shows up again, suddenly. He attacks her, but she hits him with a brick and flees.

Around the corner, conveniently, is Trey, having arrived just in time. She hops in his car and tries to explain what happened. Trey takes her back to his place where DAWN, his girlfriend and Cherie’s former best friend, is staying. In this section there is a lot of expositional throat clearing about their relationship, their break-up, Dawn, etc. What’s odd is that so much time is given to these characters…

…and then ten or so minutes later Ethan shows up and kills them all, revealing himself to be a vampire. Boom, we’ve reached the MIDPOINT.

Sequence 5 = 1:01:13-1:11:07

Flees to church/Ethan is a shape-shifter–>flees to basement which is attached to a night club–>cleans herself up (bleach) to hide her sent

Cherie flees to a church, but Ethan has beaten there, wounded a priest and shape-shifted into said priest. With the help of the real priest, Cherie escapes through a secret door and stumbles into an adjacent night club.

In the night club she finally comes up with a plan: to hide her scent and call “The First Lady,” aka that person who has been teased throughout the film.

Sequence 6: 1:11:08-1:18:32

Steals phone, calls The First Lady–>Harassed by douchey men, protected by a couple of women–>Hitches ride with women/realizes she’s bleeding still–>Ethan attacks, crashing the car and killing the other women–>Ethan scared away by a dog (???)

Cherie calls “The First Lady,” then is accosted by a group of men in the club. A few women help her out, and she hitches a ride with them until Ethan shows up, destroys the car, killing these new friends of hers.

He is about to kill her (for the dozenth time) when a dog shows up and scares him. Ethan, scared of dogs for a reason I can’t quite understand, vanishes.

When Cherie is then left alone among the car wreckage and her dead friends, she screams to the heavens in despair. For all intents and purposes this is the “all is lost” moment of the script and yet this sequence does nothing to interfere with her goal, which is to go find The First Lady.

She was on her way to TFL, the car crashed, and yes now she must walk but she is still on her way to TFL. Nothing has changed.

ACT 3: 1:18:33-1:38:05

Sequence 7: 1:18:33-1:24:38

Cherie goes to a spa to see the First Lady–>exposition dump–>TFL’s plan to use Cherie as bait–>Gets ready for battle

The third act has a lot of exposition, introducing TFL and her spa or angels who have been fighting an eternal battle with Ethan. It’s the set-up for a completely new film, and this act struggles under the weight of that clunky exposition.

Cherie is at first unsettled by all this new information as well as the reveal that they want to use her as bait for Ethan, but then she quickly comes around to their plan.

There’s a “getting ready for battle” montage and she heads off to the pier, with the intention to lure Ethan out into the coming daylight.

Sequence 8 = 1:24:39-1:38:05

Goes to pier to draw out Ethan (as sunrise approaches)–>Ethan crucifies her–>She says she wants him, to trick him/grabs rock, throws it through window, letting the sun burn him–>Lights him on fire at the pier–>happy at home with her daughter. The end.

This is the final battle between Cherie and Ethan. It takes place on a pier by a merry-go-round. Once Cherie has Ethan where she wants him, she throws a rock through painted glass that lets in sunshine and burns the vampire. Then we see that a bunch of other women from TFL’s spa are there too, throwing rocks in to let in more sunshine.

Ethan crawls away through the burning daylight and dies.


Okay, so this movie works best when it’s limited in scope to just Cherie and Ethan. The reveal that he’s a vampire is interesting but doesn’t fundamentally change her goal, which is just to get the hell away from him.

Every sequence seems to be: Cherie gets away from Ethan, thinks she’s safe but then Ethan shows up again. It doesn’t really raise the stakes or alter her goal.

The new information has to do with him, first that he’s somehow all powerful, then that he’s a vampire, etc. And he’s the character who we’re supposed to believe has changed, because he goes from toying with Cherie the way he has with so many other women, to apparently becoming obsessed with her, as TFL suggests. But nothing from what I could tell indicates he is any more infatuated with her than any previous woman.

In any horror movie, or any typical horror movie, it feels like the first half of the movie (maybe 2/3) is the protagonist on the run, trying to evade the monster. Then, at the end, they come up with a plan and fight back. That is very much the case here but the only course of action Cherie has is to contact The First Lady, who is teased in the first act of the movie, when Cherie is in the holding cell.

She has no reason to want to call this person or to believe TFL can help her, but we as an audience know TFL is going to be a major part of the story, so I found myself just waiting for Cherie to do the obvious thing, which she doesn’t do until the movie is nearly over.

And then the whole introduction of TFL and her eternal battle with Ethan that just so happens to culminate that night with a pretty naive plan (that works for reasons of incredulity) is just way too much.

The movie works best when, like it’s title, it’s about this woman running. It should be nimble, fast on its feet, and at first it is. The slick nighttime streets, danger around every corner, it plays really well. Basically everything up until the massacre at Trey’s home is quite effective. And the murder of Trey and Dawn should be the heaviest moment in the film. In fact that should probably be the end of act 2, rather than the murder of three women that Cherie (and the audience) only just met and don’t have any attachment too.

So if it were up to me, I would try to layer in TFL early on, maybe she comes out to visit Cherie early in act 2, to tell her what she’s up against with Ethan, implying that he’s a vampire. And Cherie, though she’s scared of Ethan, is equally as scared of TFL. It’s all too much, too overwhelming for her to absorb so just as she runs from Ethan so does she run from TFL.

But by that point we will have met TFL and established her as a character.

So then Cherie goes to Trey and Dawn and thinks she is finally safe, but then Ethan shows up, proving that what TFL said is true: He’s really a vampire, he’s really all powerful. He massacres everyone in the house and now that is a more appropriate “all is lost” moment. Trey and Dawn both have moments of sympathy, and they are the only characters in the film who die that we had any emotional connection to.

And then act 3 can play out mostly as it does but without the need to explain everything about TFL and her backstory, because that would have been done already.

The drawback with this remix is that it ruins the surprise of Ethan being a vampire, but the surprise isn’t worth sacrificing pacing and character development.

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