Other than the spooky background music, the first two-thirds of the new thriller, "The Rental," plays like a soap opera. But it's an intriguing film that will make you think twice before ever renting out your next AirBnB.
As if we don't have enough things to be fearful of these days, here comes "The Rental," the feature-film directorial debut from Dave Franco (he also co-wrote the script). Franco directs his real-life wife, Alison Brie, who leads a very lean ensemble cast...it's a slow-burn thriller that ends in pay-off, depending on your definition of the meaning.
Michelle (Brie) and her boyfriend, Charlie (Dan Stevens) decide to get-away on a weekend vacation at a massive rental property that they find online. In tow is Charlie's brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White), and his girlfriend, Mina (Sheila Vand), who just so happens to also be Charlie's super-close business partner.
The house they choose for the weekend is pretty pricey, but its sea-side cliff view is worth it. All seems good with the property, save for the weird, socially-inept landlord, Taylor (Toby Huss). First Taylor insults Mina, and he manages to creep out the others. They think nothing of it.
Mina and Charlie's close relationship escalates and crosses a few lines the first night. As they wake up groggy the next morning, they soon discover that this is no ordinary house...there are cameras in the rooms, the showers, the toilets. Fearing that their little "oopsie" was caught on tape, they devise a plan to get a hold of the footage themselves, all the while trying to keep their significant others in the dark. But nothing goes to plan.
It's safe to say that even if you think you know where "The Rental" is going, it doesn't end up there. This is a slick-yet-bare-bones drama that focuses on the intertwined relationships of the two couples, before it suddenly doesn't, turning into something else entirely and landing squarely in "horror" territory. Things spiral way out of control.
Soon after, even the viewer realizes that this movie is out of their grasps. Some might respect the journey, while others may find themselves disappointed in the destination. I see both sides of this, but felt invested enough in the drama between the characters to feel like it ultimately was a worthy ride. Like life itself, not everything comes with a detailed explanation or sound reason.
"The Rental" is worth investing in, even if "fear" is a muscle I've grown tired of flexing these days.
Watch an exclusive interview with director Dave Franco below.
Genre: Horror, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 29 minutes.
Starring: Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, Sheila Vand.
Co-Written and Directed by Dave Franco (feature-film directorial debut).
"The Rental" is available for streaming on Friday, July 24th, 2020.
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