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The Rental Main

The Rental Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

The Rental Large

Directed by Dave Franco
Written by Dave Franco and Joe Swanberg
2020, 88 minutes, Not Rated
Released on December 1st, 2020

Starring:
Dan Stevens as Charlie
Alison Brie as Michelle
Sheila Vand as Mina
Jeremy Allen White as Josh
Toby Huss as Taylor

The Rental 01 The Rental 02

Review:

Charlie and his business partner Mina have just landed a promising new assignment and are looking to unwind before digging in to the challenges that lie ahead. Charlie and his wife Michelle are joined by Mina and her boyfriend Josh, who is Charlie’s brother, for a weekend getaway at a coastal rental house that looks too good to be true. Spacious accommodations and a stellar view offer a relaxing time for the two couples, but the homeowner is a peculiar man, a tad on the racist side. Following the long drive, the evening promises to be one filled with good times enhanced by drugs and alcohol. Michelle is too tired to party and turns in early with the promise to be more fun in the morning.

As the night wears on, Josh falls asleep on the couch, leaving Charlie and Mina alone to try out the hot tub and mistakes are made. The next morning Michelle and Josh are eager to go on a hike, but the others are too hungover to join. On the trail, Josh reveals his brother’s history of starting new relationships before the previous one has ended. Back at the house, Charlie and Mina admit they made a mistake and vow never to repeat it. When Mina steps into the shower, she notices a camera hidden in the showerhead. She calls Charlie and they are desperate to recover the footage before the others find out about their indiscretion.

The obvious suspect is Taylor, the homeowner, and the inevitable confrontation turns physical, with Josh beating him unconscious. The group steps outside to discuss their options, as Josh has a record, and when they return they find the man dead. Believing they are responsible, Charlie, Josh and Mina decide to cover it up and make it look like an accident, but Michelle wants nothing to do with this and insists they call the police. She is outnumbered and withdraws to the bedroom while the others carry out their plan. What no one knows is they are not alone in the house and are being stalked by a masked psychopath armed with a hammer. Deception and betrayal threaten to destroy their bond, but they will have to work together if they intend to survive the night.

Dave Franco (The Disaster Artist) makes his directorial debut with The Rental, a modern spin on the classic scenario of a killer hunting attractive young people in a secluded location. Co-written by Franco and Joe Swanberg (Easy), the script does a fine job developing the characters and creating a friendly vibe before making the hard turn into the horror genre. The premise revolves around the idea of how trusting modern society is of the new social norms of ride-sharing and online rentals. We are methodical in guarding our privacy and passwords, but think nothing of getting into a car with a random driver or staying in a stranger’s house for the weekend.

The Rental 03 The Rental 04

The fact that it makes a radical shift in the final act is exciting, but may catch some audiences off guard. The first two thirds of the picture play as a straight relationship drama involving secrets and betrayal. A thread of racism is introduced in the opening act when Mina, a woman of color, has her rental application denied only to have her white, male counterpart successfully book the same location an hour later. Themes of loyalty and family are tested as our lead characters make bad choices and struggle to keep their unit together. There are hints of an outsider watching from a distance, but in the final act when the horror elements are finally unleashed, they are surprising and brutal.

The cast give commendable performances lending an intimacy and familiarity to the characters that feels genuine. You like them immediately and want to see them survive this ordeal. Dan Stevens (The Guest) stars as Charlie, the guy who has trouble resisting temptation. He does a shitty thing, but is remorseful and does his best not to make the situation worse than it already is. The always-welcome Alison Brie (Scream 4) shines in the role of Michelle, the good-natured, trusting wife determined to make sure everyone has a nice time. Sheila Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) plays Mina as a hard-working and generally decent person with little patience for prejudice. She suffers a moment of weakness and instantly regrets her behavior. Jeremy Allen White (Shameless) is Josh, the troubled brother lacking in self-confidence but appreciative of the people around him.

The Rental takes its time getting to the spooky stuff which may disappoint die hard genre fans, but the payoff is worth the wait. The anonymous killer is methodical and unmerciful in his punishment and even wears a creepy mask as a bonus. He is tech savvy and knows how to manipulate his intended victims without ever saying a word. The tale ends on a satisfying note and I look forward to Franco’s next turn behind the camera.

The Rental 05 The Rental 06

Video and Audio:

Filmed last year and presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, picture quality is predictably strong with rich detail and bold colors. Black levels are inky and flesh tones appear natural throughout.

Audio options include a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix, both of which get the job done. Dialogue is clear and always understandable and optional English subtitles are provided for anyone in need. In addition there is an audio descriptive track that narrates the onscreen action.

The Rental 07 The Rental 08

Special Features:

A short behind-the-scenes featurette (6 minutes) includes interviews with director Franco, producer Elizabeth Haggard and the four main cast members. Franco discusses the inspiration for the film and his determination to keep things grounded in reality. There is a generous amount of video shot on set showing the cast and crew at work.

The theatrical trailer has been included.

The Rental 09 The Rental 10

Grades:

Movie: Threeandahalfstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Twostars
Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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