REVIEW: “THE RENTAL” (2020) IFC Films

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Doing more for Airbnb’s already somewhat tempestuous reputation, “THE RENTAL” will have you thinking twice about booking that weekend get-away vacation we are all aching for.

Dave Franco’s directorial debut “The Rental” revolves around a simple set-up. Two couples, Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Michelle (Alison Brie) and Mina (Sheila Vand) and Josh (Jeremy Allen White), have the idea to rent a beautiful Oceanside rental house where they can do some hiking, relax some, and enjoy each others company, well sort of. Bringing along with them not only their emotional baggage but adding some party ‘favours’ into the mix to spice it up a bit and get them through the weekend might not be the best idea ever, but hey no one has ever turned away from a ‘good’ idea now have they… From the get go though, things are off and the feeling is some things just don’t seem right. There’s clearly some underlying issues between the couples, some lingering attraction between Charlie and Mina, and this sea-side getaway they have rented has seemingly more secrets than one can even imagine.

Adding in some racial and creeper-type tension is Taylor (Toby Huss), the caretaker of the house and so much more – because that is not the only tensity here. Franco does a really good job of slow boiling all the tensions together that are abound here from building up of the obvious sexual tension between Charlie and Mina, which could unravel in many ways, but how it does is all part of again, the build up and layers in what awaits us. As to what they don’t know about the house and slowly start to discover is but just an another added plot line that intertwines with the others so well. That they didn’t know that the very house in which they are staying, has some very invasive recording devices placed in some very private places is just part of it. The slow and precise reveal of all this is done by having a grip on us the viewer – to want to know and keeps our toes tingling in anticipation of how it all draws out.

On the acting level Brie, despite a slow start to her character, revs it up during the second hour of the film as the reveals start pouring forth. Stevens once again not speaking in his native accent but more of a whispery American one which once again he’s just not wholly successful at, but because of the genre of movie, it actually adds a little to it by doing so. Jeremy White as a screw up brother isn’t really a stretch of a character and he’s fine here, but does grow aggravating during a few spots. Vand’s role here is a great find though as she handles the biggest character evolvement of both good & bad, all the while keeping us completely on her side.

The movie also shows the effect that technology can have on our lives and how you never really know if or when you are being watched even in the most private of places. The film doesn’t rely on gore, but on the build up of tension to give us it’s scare. The direction from Franco is also well paced and while it could be argued there may have been a need for more depth on these characters, it’s a very slight one as Franco turns the tension up to the perfect level, delivering an ending that makes it all a notable pay off, most especially leading into the credits sequence which will send much worthy chills right down your spine.

All in all ‘The Rental‘ is most definitely deserving of a rental this weekend. 🙂

Grade: C+

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Review link courtesy of IFC Films

THE RENTAL | Opens In over 250 Drive-Ins + Theaters and Digital/VOD THIS Friday JULY 24