NOT WORTH A RENTAL
I’m very ambivalent about Dave Franco’s faux thriller, The Rental, a good idea riddled with unlikeable characters leaving me with an ugly feeling reminiscent of better films, The Collector and Blood Simple. The later films were horribly suspenseful with players that we actually cared about. You cannot fault the actors in Franco’s film. They do an admirable job, But, sadly, thriller tropes and a story that feels as if it runs out of steam halfway through guide this rental rather than character development.
Dan Stevens, so memorable in the independent thriller The Guest, has the unfortunate role of Charlie, unsatisfied in his personal life and consumed with his work, which is unmemorable. From the start, we believe that Charlie and Mina are a couple, but quickly find out they are business partners. Before The Rental gets going, we already know where it is heading. Mina is actually Charlie’s brother’s girlfriend. Early on, Charlie relays to his wife how perfect his partner is and can’t see how his loser brother ended up with her. Warning flags, people!
But, Charlie’s wife, Michelle, laughs it off and is happy for Charlie’s brother. Much later in the film, Michelle relays why she is not jealous of her husband’s relationship with his partner. This explanation makes her sound naive and dumb. So, we have two successful people unsatisfied in their relationships, drawn to each other with two dimwit partners tagging along to spend the weekend in an Airbnb where the dalliances are being spied on. Oh, and the guy renting it is a creepy, misogynistic, racist. Wow, is it any wonder why we would want to spend over an hour with any of them?
Writers Dave Franco and Joe Swanberg (from a story written by the two and Mike Demski) have a kernel of an idea that never really pops. Some have commended Franco on the idea that the film starts as a “character drama” and halfway switches into thriller mode. But, the problem here is that there is very little drama or characters we even care about.
Franco does display a creepy eye for some uncomfortable moments. Aside from that, The Rental feels like a connect the dots thriller with watered-down thrills beside a cabin in the woods vibe that doesn’t even get us excited about who the final girl (or guy) will be. To sum this all up, this film is barely worth the rental.
Available on Amazon Prime, Vudu or just about anywhere else you can rent online. But, Redbox has the lowest price, although it is only offered as a DVD. Available for purchase (if you must) – $14.99 – Best Buy & Amazon
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Directed by: Dave Franco
Release Date: July 24, 2020
Run Time: 88 min.
Distributor: IFC Films