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‘Runt’ review: Cameron Boyce highlights film that otherwise misses the mark

Good idea in theory.

Runt is a psychological thriller set in a familiar high school setting. Cal (the late Cameron Boyce) is the target of constant bullying. Even his friends talk down to him. When he meets Cecily (Nicole Elizabeth Berger) who is the girlfriend of one of the bullies, things only get worse. When Cal decides to stand up for himself it leads to deadly consequences.

Taking on the awful side of high school can be very difficult. Identity, toxic masculinity, and gun violence, are just some of the issues that come up in Runt. These are heady topics to take on and it is easy to inadvertently make light of the issues or just not address them properly. Everyone has been touched by these subjects in one matter or another and they have to be handled delicately.

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This is something of an issue in Runt. Though it never downplays the importance of anything (there is a moment where it looks like they may at one point), it does not give enough importance to anything. It seems it is so consumed with showing the end result that it never shows what led there. This is not the worst idea as it is based in reality and provides character development, but it gets a little murky here.

The end result is when Cal decides he has had enough, it seems like his response is an overreaction. In reality, any number of things – no matter how small – can lead to a violent response. Runt fails at reminding audiences of this fact. This is a shame since the issue is such an important one. After decades of kids being told to either “take it or stand up for themselves” society has begun to realize that the answer is not that simple. Boyce also does a great job in the role. He gets across the idea of a kid who is breaking down and is more than just a brooding teenager. Regrettably, Runt will be remembered more for what he did previously.

Runt opens in Los Angeles and New York October 1 and comes to digital and VOD October 19

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