{Movie Review) The Rental

I once stayed in an AirBnB in Dallas that left me a note telling me that I was welcome to anything in the fridge, including the breast milk, if that was my thing. Its not my thing. It was a little weird but that is gamble you take when you agree to spend some time in other people’s homes I guess. When news broke that Dave Franco was directing a thriller about a vacation rental gone wrong starring Alison Brie I was excited. Vacation horror is one of my jams, I adore Alison Brie and Dave Franco was great in the first fifteen minutes of Warm Bodies. The Rental has all the pieces to be something interesting. While those pieces remained interesting The Rental as a whole wasn’t really worth the trip.

Dan Stevens, of The Guest fame ( I will die on that hill it is FREAKING GREAT) and Alison Brie get top billing. They play Michelle and Charlie who escape their regular lives to spend the weekend with Charlie’s brother Josh (Jeremy Allen White) and his girlfriend Mina (Sheila Vand). To complicate those relationships Mina and Charlie are business partners. Partners in what, I don’t really know. There is some soft discussion about what they do (something tech related) and some discussion of funding but what exactly they are developing remains cloudy. We do know Charlie seems to be the organizational one and Mina the creative “genius”. The couples enjoy their first days a little too much and issues of infidelity and trust seem to permeate the middle portion of the movie. The last act is dominated by a VERY sharp turn as the movie becomes a pretty traditional slasher movie.

The Rental really is two different movies. The first act is most definitely a pyscho-sexual thriller that wants to examine the differences between professional and romantic relationships. Sheila Vand brings a complexity to Mina that makes this first act really interesting. Mina doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit. So when the caretaker Taylor (Toby Huss) appears to be a racist, she ain’t having it. At the end of the day though she falls victim to recreational drug use and infidelity. We don’t get much about her boyfriend Josh, other than that he is the slightly fucked up brother who makes bad choices (one of which landed him in prison) and seems to be equally hotblooded. Mina is the closest to a character we care about. Allison Brie plays the quiet, tolerant subservient girlfriend well but what makes Brie so interesting is her ability to add depth and quirkiness to these roles. The pacing of this film doesn’t allow that. She feels like the sad sack mopey girlfriend which really wastes her talent.

Lets talk about the third act.

It is weird, not big W weird, just strange. Once the crew stumbles upon the big revelation the movie quickly transitions into a traditional slasher film complete with woods, fog, and a young ingenue running from the masked killer. Its as if they movie decided half way through, fuck it the movie we were making is too tough lets make a different type of horror movie that is more fun. I agree the final act is way more fun unfortunately it just feels incongruous with the rest of the film. The Rental seems to center itself on the idea of invasions of privacy which I find really intriguing. That idea doesn’t need a masked killer. It exists in the real world.

Jill “Sixx” Gevargizian captured it perfectly with her award winning short 42 seconds. There are real people that do what the killer does. They are awful and disgusting and making them a faceless bad guy somehow makes it feel less real and less scary.

Dave Franco directs a fine movie. Its fine. Not spectacular or ground breaking. If it is an homage to slashers its not slasher enough. If it was a thriller about invasions of privacy it isn’t nearly real enough. It tries to have it’s cake and eat it too and as a result it wasn’t my cup of vacation tea.


  1. Hi, I just finished watching The Rental and felt exactly the same as you. However, I noticed on the credits that the man in the mask is credited as ‘old charlie’
    Dan Stevens’ name was Charlie is the film. What do you make of that?? Thanks.

    • Thats an interesting wrinkle. Maybe old because of the mask…hmmmm

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