In Theaters

The Rental (2020) - Movie Review

  • Movie Review

  • Blu-ray Review

  • Film Details

  • Art

The Rental

If you’ve not yet become totally comfortable with the whole AirBnB home-sharing thing yet, then stay away from The Rental.

It’s the new film from first-time director Dave Franco (yes, that Dave Franco) and it plays off the distrust many have about staying in the home of a complete stranger. Think about it. Why is it that our country is as divided as ever right now with no one trusting one another, yet the idea of spending the night inside a total stranger’s home is no big deal? I’ll tell you why. Because they have never watched Craven’s The Last House on the Left, Fincher’s Panic Room, or Polanski’s Cul-deSac. That’s why!

"a nasty little piece of twisty-turny psychological horror"


And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and add The Rental to that list as it takes the genre to a whole new level by incorporating the popular home-sharing craze into the mix. The Rental does for AirBnB what Jaws did for the ocean.

What opens as a tense, smoldering relationship drama featuring two couples on an oceanside weekend getaway, soon turns into a horrific nightmare when the guests discover that the home’s owner(s) may be spying on them.

The four young 30-somethings are couples Charlie (Dan Stevens, Downton Abbey) and Michelle (Allison Brie, Mad Men), and Charlie’s bad news brother Josh (Jeremy Allen White, Shameless) and his girlfriend Mina (Sheila Vand, TV’s Snowpiercer) who is also Charlie’s business partner at their successful tech firm startup.

There’s an obvious forbidden attraction between Charlie and Mina, and Josh sees time alone with Michelle as the perfect opportunity to spill some fact beans about his less-than-truthful brother. The result is a slow-burning sexual tension in nearly every scene that eventually comes to a head when Mina discovers cameras hidden in one of the home’s rooms which brings about the film’s main dilemma: turning the home’s owner in to the authorities, could result in Mina and Charlie’s indiscretions being revealed to Charlie’s girlfriend. Oh, the tangled webs we weave.

Panic immediately sets in with Mina and Charlie, as the couple suspect their secret shower fling may have been recorded. Throw into the mix, the creepy property caretaker Taylor (Toby Huss, The Righteous Gemstones), and you have a moody little chiller that runs deep into the psychological dynamics of relationships and even deeper into our fears of being watched and recorded without our permission.The Rental

The Rental’s biggest strength is the way in which Franco and co-writer Joe Swanberg (TV’s Easy) slowly unfurl their thriller as a tense character study, before eventually tipping it over into horror territory with the occasional flash of slasher rearing its bloody knife. All the while, Franco and Swanberg stay true to the tone they established at the outset and never forget to keep things totally believable. They tap into the horror of real world fears, because we all know there’s nothing more terrifying than something that could really happen. Franco and Swanberg have created a true living nightmare that imagines Michael Meyers as a home-sharing entrepreneur.

Horror lovers may be a bit disappointed, however, as The Rental is more psychology than blood-letting. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of truly horrific moments that include claw hammers, a cliff-side backyard, and a couple of perfectly-timed jump scares. And for those seeing Dave Franco’s name in the credits and expecting another of his trademarked crude comedies, please stick it out. Moments of levity are few and far between, but you are sure to be pleasantly surprised by this nasty little piece of twisty-turny psychological horror.

The Rental isn’t flawless by any means, particularly when plagued by stupid character decisions and an inordinate amount of “don’t go in there” moments. But those are more than overcome by the film’s strengths which come from Franco’s brilliant use of mood and atmosphere that are the intentional byproducts of DP Christian Sprenger’s fog-shrouded coastal Oregon setting as well as Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurrians’ moody score that pounds out a crafty dreadfulness.

In addition, at just under 90 minutes, there’s no time for filmmaker indulgence. The Rental is a smartly realized screw-turning ride that never lets up. It is certain to have you scanning the walls, fixtures, potted plants, and shower heads of your next AirBnB rental.

The Rental is now streaming.

4/5 stars

The Rental

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor:
Available on Blu-ray

Screen Formats:
Subtitles
:
Audio:

Discs:
Region Encoding:

The Rental

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexuality.
Runtime:
88 mins
Director
: Dave Franco
Writer:
Dave Franco: Joe Swanberg
Cast:
Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Vand
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Secluded getaway. Killer views.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Distributor:
IFC Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 24, 2020
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 20, 2019.
Synopsis: Two couples on an oceanside getaway grow suspicious that the host of their seemingly perfect rental house may be spying on them. Before long, what should have been a celebratory weekend trip turns into something far more sinister, as well-kept secrets are exposed and the four old friends come to see each other in a whole new light. Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, and Sheila Vand star in this unnerving and sophisticated debut thriller from Dave Franco..

The Rental

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home In Theaters / VOD The Rental (2020) - Movie Review
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes