Friends/couples Mina (Sheila Vand, A Woman Walks Home Alone At Night), Josh (Jeremy Allen White), Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Michelle (Alison Brie, she of the late, great Netflix series GLOW) head out to a loverly rental house situated along a scenic coastline for a lil’ r&r.
The one in charge of said dwelling, Taylor (Toby Huss) by name, is a creepy-ass racist… but the house is so damn groovy our heroes shelve their feelings about the caretaker and they settle in for some of that good ol’ drinkin’, druggin’ and fuckin’ that is so popular with telephone operators between the ages of 22 and 45.
As fate, and the screenplay, would have it, the friends begin to learn each other’s deepest secrets which causes relationships to fray… but what really causes static is the camera they find installed in the home’s shower.
Now normally one would call the cops right quick after making a discovery such as this, but these folks ain’t the brightest bulbs (and they are packed to the rafters with drugs), so they try to take matters into their own hands with predictably shitty results. Terror and panic ensue!
The Rental is a bit of a slow-burn to be sure. A lot of time is spent just hanging out with our protagonists learning what makes them tick and such, and for a good portion of the film’s hour and twenty-eight minute runtime the horror biz is placed on the farthest back burner possible.
Is this a problem? Kinda/sorta. For the most part, these characters are just typical thirty-something, annoying idiots… and I had a hard time deciding if co-writer/director Dave Franco actually thought these folks were rock solid protagonists, or assholes that get what they deserve… maybe it’s a combo of both, who knows…
That’s not to say the actors in those roles are bad, because they truly aren’t… we have quality performances in this across the board, and admittedly when the shit truly hits the fan at about an hour in, it’s a great deal of fun watching them completely lose their damn minds as the suspense mounts and grows exponentially.
Speaking of which, the last twenty or so minutes of The Rental play out like a slasher with a mysterious figure going around putting the murder on folks as they run through the stalk n’ slay paces. This material was tight n’ outta sight, and Franco directs the hell out of it… I just wish there were a lot more of it in the film.
Speaking of wishing for more, the extras on this Blu-ray are light, with only a glimpse behind-the-scenes and the film’s trailer present.
All in all, The Rental is an effective thriller, just give it some time to get where it’s going!