Movie review: The Rental
As if the likes of Airbnb and similar vacation rental online companies are not facing enough trouble already with the Covid-19 pandemic battering their businesses worldwide.
Now it looks like actor Dave Franco, in his directorial debut which he also wrote, is set on turning paranoid holidaymakers off even more.
The Rental is an atmospheric, character-driven horror indie that takes the travel trend of home-sharing and imagines the worst that could happen, tapping real-world fears such as surveillance, prejudice and how the growing gig economy risks safety in the name of convenience.
The first half of the film focuses on the tense dynamic and secret entanglements between the four main characters, whose relationships start to break down as they find themselves in more life-threatening situations.
Dan Stevens and Alison Brie portray the perfect married couple, but his character is sexually attracted to his work partner (Sheila Vand), who is dating his ex-con brother (Jeremy Allen White).
Once the group reaches the sprawling, secluded oceanside rental home, the natural beauty of the jagged coastline gives way to a building dread once they meet its unpleasant host (Toby Huss) and night falls.
Naturally, the slasher genre cliches are all there - who gets killed off in which order, the red herrings, the jump scares, the masked bogeyman.
The casting is fine, even though I had expected Franco to give his actress-wife Brie a meatier role than a stuffy goody-two-shoes spouse. Instead, Vand is the one who holds more attention.
You will also suffer near-whiplash seeing Stevens go from the high camp of his Russian playboy pop star in the recent Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga to someone grounded, relatable and very American.
Even though the eventual revelation of the murderer's modus operandi takes scenarios to the extreme, the scary thing about The Rental is that it is also entirely possible that such things can materialise when staying in a stranger's place.
Just something to consider when you make your next booking.
FILM: The Rental
STARRING: Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Vand, Jeremy Allen White
DIRECTOR: Dave Franco
THE SKINNY: Two couples on an oceanside weekend getaway grow suspicious that the host of their rental home may be spying on them, but the trip soon turns into something far more sinister.