William Coakley’s debut film, Runt, is dedicated to late actor Cameron Boyce. Cinema lost Boyce in 2019 when he was just 20 years of age. Boyce was diagnosed with epilepsy and died due to SUDEP. He was actively involved in a campaign against gun violence, and his last film, Runt, attempts to explore a similar theme.
‘Runt’ Plot Summary
Calvin “Cal” (Cameron Boyce) is a high school student who lives with his widowed mother. Cal’s mother often works late at night as a nurse in a hospital and thus is majorly absent throughout the film. Her absence symbolizes loneliness and absent parenting in Cal’s life, the void he fills with a stray dog, Runt. Cal found Runt near an oil field and gave shelter to the animal. However, Cal soon found that Runt had a condition, and thus, to afford his food and medicine, he started working part-time after school in a general store.
At school, the toxic macho footballers, Vic and his gang, consistently bully Cal. One of Vic’s friends, Hank, tries to cheat on Cal’s paper during the exam. However, Talley, the teacher, catches Hank and his friend and bans them from playing the much-awaited football match next week.
Cal has a crush on Vic’s girlfriend, Gabriella “Gabby.” Using his flair sketching skills, Cal sketches Gabby’s portrait to impress her and ask her for the homecoming dance. However, when Gabby refuses, Cal discreetly slips the sketch in Gabby’s bag. After school, Vic, Hank, and Big Ern catch Cal. They threaten Cal to take his complaint back and convince Talley to let Hank and Big Ern play the match. Cal pleads that he didn’t tell the teacher anything, and Talley acted independently, but Vic refused to hear his plea. The gang puts Cal in a trash bin and kicks him down the staircase.
The school counselor calls Cal to her office and inquires about his brawl with Vic near the football field. However, before Cal can speak, the football coach, Wilkes, brings Vic into the office. Wilkes blames Cal for stalking Gabby and slipping a sketch in her bag without permission. Feeling guilty, Cal quickly explains that nothing happens at the football field, and the counselor ends the discussion.
Cal stops thinking about Gabby and befriends a homeschooled girl named Cecily. They strike an unusual friendship. At Gabby’s request, Cal visits a party at Vic’s home, and uninvited Cecily crashes too. Cal and Cecily spend time together during the night, and Vic and his friend find the new couple sitting near the parking lot. To bully them, Vic locks Cal inside his car trunk and tries to touch Cecily inappropriately to take revenge on Cal for asking Gabby for a homecoming dance.
After the incident, Cecily stops talking to Cal. The following day in school, Cal finds out that someone has broken his cycle’s chain, due to which he loses his part-time job. After a series of threats, Cal finally decides to take revenge on Vic.
To take revenge on Vic, Cal fire-bombed Vic’s car. However, Hank saw Cal running away in his mother’s car with his dog Runt inside it during the retreat.
The Toxic Revenge
In fear, Cal skipped school the following day and bought brass knuckles to fight against Vic and his gang. Cal came to school, and his best friend, Borgie, lauded Cal’s retaliation. At this point, Borgie explained to Cal that he cut his bike’s chain in anger because Cal wasn’t doing anything against Vic and his bullies. After school, Vic and his gang cornered Cal and tried to hit him. Cal took out the knuckles from his bag and punched the gang, and broke Vic’s finger. Vic wouldn’t be able to play the football game with a broken finger, and he blamed Cal for it.
A rival gang invited Cal to a bowling party, and Cal felt confident and proud of his toxic fight in school. At night, Call called Cecily home, and even she praised Cal’s reaction to his bullies. To spend the night with his new girl, Cal left Runt outside the house, and the following morning, a tragedy hit him.
In the morning, after Cecily left, Cal found out that someone killed his dog with a baseball bat and threw the body in the bin. In a fit of rage, Cal confronted Vic in school, but he denied the allegations. To take his revenge, Cal started stalking Vic and his gang. On the game night, Cal sneaked into the locker room and replaced Hank’s cocaine with Ajax Bleach Powder. During the half-time, Hank and Big Ern snorted the powder and burnt their nostrils with bleach. The coach called the doctors, and Vic’s team lost the match.
‘Runt’ Ending, Explained
After the tragedy, Cal confronted Vic with a baseball bat and hit him. Under threat, Vic confessed to killing Runt and explained to Cal that he came to the house to beat him, but his dog started barking at him. In a way, Runt saved Cal’s life or saved him from injury, but he lost his life in the rescue.
Cal asked Vic to apologize for killing his dog, but an abusive and proud Vic refused. Vic was filled with toxic ego and pride and didn’t feel guilty about bullying Cal and killing his dog. Cal tried to hit Vic when Borgie came there with his mother’s gun to teach him a lesson. Cal patiently convinced Borgie not to use the gun and destroy their future. He took the gun from Borgie and asked him to leave. Vic ran away from there using the opportunity, and Cal followed him with a gun in his hand.
In the end, an enraged Cal pointed a gun at Vic and decided to make him pay with his life for killing Runt. Fortunately, Cecily found them before Cal could commit a grave crime and stopped Cal from pulling the trigger. She gave Cal the baseball bat with which Vic killed Runt. Cal hit Vic’s already fractured finger with the bat to give him a fatal injury that he would remember for a lifetime. After taking his revenge, Cal requested Cecily to run away, but she refused. Cecily wanted to share the punishment with Cal and thus decided to stay behind as the sirens arrived in the background.
Before the screen faded out, Cal and Cecily entered the homecoming dance event together. They held each other’s hands and comforted each other for the difficult time that was about to arrive. Probably, the police would arrest Cal for trying to kill Hank and Big Ern and assaulting Vic with a baseball bat. Maybe Vic would get away with killing Runt, but he learned a memorable lesson on the journey that he would probably remember before bullying anyone else in school or in life.
Runt is a 2021 Coming of Age Drama film directed by William Coakley.