The Rental (2020) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Rental (2020) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on November 08th, 2020 | Movie Review | Home Invasion, Cabin in the Woods, Killer, Psychological

Two couples plan a getaway to a vacation rental, but someone is watching their every move.

The Rental was directed by Dave Franco and stars Dan Stevens (from Apostle), Alison Brie (from Born), Sheila Vand (from XX), Jeremy Allen White, Toby Huss (from The Invitation) and Anthony Molinari.

Secluded getaway. Killer views.

The Rental Review

Dave Franco is most known for his comedic roles, but he chose horror for his debut feature film. He co-wrote the screenplay with indie darling Joe Swanberg, and the slow, atmospheric home-rental-tech invasion film The Rental was born.

Business partners Charlie and Mina and their respective romantic partners, Michelle and Josh, go on a beach getaway to a house rental they book online. There is some tension when it appears Mina has been rejected because of her race (I thought we might be in for a Get Out type of experience, but it was an unexplored plot point). But Charlie acquires the rental and, despite their racist welcome wagon and Charlie’s inability to understand why that bothers Mina, the foursome engage in some fun antics together. Beneath the surface there is obvious sexual tension between Charlie and Mina, and when it goes too far, Mina finds herself stewing in her guilt in the shower - and then she notices a camera.

In order to keep themselves from being found out, Charlie and Mina opt not to tell Josh and Michelle about being watched, and attempt to finish out the vacation as normal. When that becomes impossible and Mina spills the beans, a series of unfortunate events unravel, with deadly results.

This movie basically worked as a cautionary tale of what NOT to do if you suspect someone is watching you. But the movie is less about the probable assailant and more about the domestic dynamics between the four main characters; the impending sense of doom leans more thriller than horror until the end. The motivations for the surveillance are kept under wraps until the third act, which was creepy indeed, but it was very brief. It asks of us viewers: are you seeing things clearly? How far would you go to protect the person you love?

Dan Stevens’s acting was really off-base; he didn’t fill Charlie’s ‘asshole creative genius’ role very well, and his dialogue was forced. Alison Brie as Michelle, the only unselfish (and most realistic) person in the film, played the parts of naieteve and betrayal flawlessly. Sheila Vand’s character Mina is interesting; she’s a flawed but very intelligent person - though I wish this was shown rather than told to us - and she has great emotional range. But ultimately, I found her, like Stevens, unlikeable. I found myself rooting most for Josh (Jeremy Allen White), who was self-deprecating and trying hard to better himself, despite lack of support from his brother.

As a modernized version of Peeping Tom, the concept works. Rentals like Vrbo and AirBnb leave renters at the mercy of their respective short-term landlords, most of whom we never meet. There is something to be said for the vulnerability renters are open to that we don’t think about, but probably should - do you really know if someone is watching? However, this really could have been executed better. Parts that were meant to scare leaned very heavily on aspects that have been done one hundred times over, though at times there was an obvious homage to Halloween. I was interested in the story, but the horror bit left much to be desired.

Worth Watching?

If you like character-driven horrors where the scares are scant and don’t mind letting them unravel slowly, then this might be your gig. I thought it was okay. Franco set it up for a sequel, and the concept was interesting, so I’ll probably watch to see if the second go-round is more compelling.

The Rental (2020) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

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