By Stormie Sanchez
“The Rental”, Dave Franco’s directorial debut starts off as a character-driven drama and takes a hard turn into a slasher film, reminiscent of 80s classics.
The film opens with a simple concept; a married couple, Charlie and Michelle (Dan Stevens and Alison Brie), and a newly dating Josh and Mina (Jeremy Allen White and Sheila Vand) take a vacation to celebrate the launch of Charlie and Mina’s new tech startup.
Yawn. That alone is hardly worthy of an entire movie, but Franco does a good job building his characters. I found myself invested in them, something rare for the genre. Most of the drama brewing early on in the film stems from the obvious sexual tension between Mina and Charlie. Let’s just say that subtlety isn’t Franco’s strong point.
I found it strange that the two more well-known actors, Brie and White, were pushed to the side, with Brie (Franco’s wife) probably being the least utilized talent in the cast. This isn’t the first time a horror film director has taken their most bankable actor and given them a bit part, in fact, the first Scream film, and Psycho immediately come to mind.
The location of the film worked well for setting an eerie tone.
As the paranoia amongst the doomed vacationers grows, so does the fog. It’s effective but almost ridiculous. It didn’t really take away from the film, but almost made the actual slasher part of the film seem like a YouTube satire of the genre.
Speaking of the slasher part of the film, what happened? I spent possibly over two-thirds of this movie thinking it’s going to be a psychological thriller/drama, and then it takes a hard turn into a slasher film. It almost felt like a rip-off to have invested so much into these characters and the movie to end as quickly as it did. It makes you wonder if they ran out of money, or just didn’t know how else to end the film.
I don’t know why, but I liked the film. It’s entirely possible that it’s directly related to the lack of options over the summer. I definitely appreciated that both sex and gore were implied, rather than shoved down my throat.
It reminded me of the classics, the types of movies that have always stuck with me. I doubt it will be a classic, but it held my attention all the way through, I enjoyed the characters and even jumped a few times.
The movie ends, with an obvious hint at a sequel, whether we ever see that come to fruition is another story entirely, but far worse horror films get the sequel treatment.