Coming this Friday to select drive-ins, theatres and OnDemand from writer/director Dave Franco and IFC Films is a thriller of getting away to THE RENTAL.
Needing to get out of town, Charlie (Dan Stevens), wife Michelle (Alison Brie), Lyft driver brother Josh (Jeremy White) and girlfriend and Charlie’s co-worker Mina (Sheila Vand) take a drive up the lush and green highway of the Pacific Northwest to an amazing spot. Waiting to meet them is Taylor (Toby Huss) who explains the house rules and is not amused by Josh’s side comments or Mina’s attempt at confronting what she feels is racism.
After the awkward confrontation they are left to enjoy nature, the couples take a walk and enjoy each other’s company celebrating Charlie’s recent tech company success with Michelle. That evening during dinner it is suggested they partake of what is found in a little baggie brought by Josh and then head for the hot tub. That is a fraction of where the problems start, especially for Charlie and Mina.
The next morning during a shower, what they believe to be a camera is found. Now the vacation has taken a back seat to discovering what is really going on in this beautiful house and who is responsible.
Stevens as Charlie tries to keep the peace between everyone. Bringing his brother on their trip is a cause for some of the tension and Charlie tries to keep everyone focused. Stevens has come to play so many different characters that this is an interesting choice for him to jump into a slow-moving thriller. Once the pace picks up, well, you will see.
Brie as Michelle is a very happy person which seems to annoy people. That does not mean she is not keenly aware of the situation that they find themselves in only hours before arriving. Brie is thrilled with the tech companies’ success but does not truly see what is happening until it is literally staring her in the shower. I enjoyed Brie’s portrayal, but she reminded me of a Star Trek ensign in the blue shirt who is oblivious to what happens next.
White as brother Josh is enjoying his life as a Lyft driver, of course that does not mean he is not a bit insecure since Mina is making more money than he thinks he will ever see. Yet, he finds time to break little rules (like bringing his dog) and cracking jokes. White is the relief until it is time for him to stop laughing and be something he never thought he could be.
Vand as Mina works with Daniel and Michelle and has a lot to say about everything. Her first moment comes when she believes that the owner of the property discriminated against her. When the problems really begin, her beliefs go out the window and over the cliff because it is all downhill from there.
Huss as Taylor is absolutely amazing in the fact that he freaked me out from get-go. Renting the place for his brother he has no dog in the hunt and he certainly gives zero fraks who he offends or upsets. He makes it clear from the start that there are house rules but says everything with honey dripping off his distained lips.
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THE RENTAL is the directorial debut of Dave Franco and co-written with Joe Swanberg. Originally set to act in the film, Franco decided to direct full time. “When I did decide to direct it, I made a major choice to just focus on my responsibility behind the camera.” The idea came to Franco from his own feelings about B&B’s saying, “I was inspired by my own paranoia about the concept of home-sharing and no one trusts each other yet we live in the home of a stranger because of a review online”. I am 100% behind that statement!
The film also covers the relationship between brothers, the belief of discrimination, and that big fear that someone is always watching for their own personal gain. Mix into that the paranoia of all four adults and let the finger pointing and arguing begin.
I enjoyed that the film was just the four characters in a setting that is secluded because it forces us to pay close attention to their behaviors and their reaction to what is happening around them. Granted I’m not so sure I would have stuck around after hour one but, they did and the result gives us all a little bit of Friday night creepy that is fun, especially since we are locked up in creepy of our own right now.
In the end – secluded gateway with killer views!