Friday, July 31, 2020 By Rebecca Brando
Quarantine has inspired plenty of fear, but leave it to Dave Franco to invent a chillingly fresh twist on renting an Airbnb this summer. Franco delivers a legit scary movie in his directorial debut of "The Rental." A film that taps into the fears and dangers of what could go wrong while renting a vacation home.
According to Deadline, IFC Films scored this summer’s biggest (and widest) opening weekend for a new movie with the digital release of The Rental amid the pandemic. It brought in $420,871 from 251 theaters, averaging $1,677 per theater. Not to mention the movie also stars Alison Brie, who happens to be Franco’s wife in real life.
The story follows four friends who set off for a weekend getaway on the coast of Oregon in The Rental. Married couple Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Michelle (Alison Brie), along with Charlie's brother Josh (Jeremy Allen White) and his girlfriend Mina (Sheila Vand), rent a gorgeous home for a getaway. Mina first tries to book the house but her request is denied. Charlie requests to book the same house after her however his request is immediately accepted. The denial sets the stage for Mina to immediately assume she was denied because she's a woman of color and and her last name. When they arrive at the rental caretaker Taylor (Toby Huss) gives the couples a super awkward and slightly racist vibe.
From there we begin to see the cracks and the complicated undertones in their relationships unravel. Charlie and Josh are brothers. Charlie and Mina just secured C funding for their startup business together. Mina and Charlie leave the lingering questions “Is there more?” to their professional relationship. A problem since Charlie is in a committed relationship with Michelle.
Things fall apart days after a wild drug induced first night at the rental. Before long, the couples grow suspicious that the host of their seemingly perfect rental may be spying on them. What should have been a celebratory weekend trip turns into something far more sinister, as well-kept secrets are exposed and the four old friends come to see each other in a whole new light. Much to Franco and co-writer Joe Swanberg’s credit, the ending reveals the killer without ever truly showing his identity, leaving an air of mystery and the possibility of a sequel.
The performances and scoring by Danny Bensi and Saunder definitely keep you on edge throughout the movie. Mina played by Sheila Vand is a truly invidious character. I found myself rooting for her to die the whole time. I'd say this movie is 100% worth streaming and quite possibly the best horror movie I've seen this summer. Overall, “The Rental” is a promising debut for Franco.
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Film Review by Rebecca Brando for The Big Magazine - Los Angeles