Checking into a short-term rental, a pair of couples are looking for a fun break with each other along the shore. Michelle (Alison Brie), Josh (Jeremy Allen White), Charlie (Dan Stevens), and Mina (Sheila Vand) soon discover some strange quirks about the rental as they reach their final night. A seemingly racist property owner, some strange surveillance, and the disappearance of a furry friend.
The Rental is a welcome addition to the horror/thriller genre, but it, unfortunately, fizzles out the further the story goes. The writing, which director Dave Franco also has a hand in, falls short and the story limps along in the second half of the film. For what was hopefully shaping up to be a tense thriller, The Rental shows its cards too quickly and too perfectly as a conclusion draws near.
It is the directing and filmmaking of The Rental, however, that stands out. There is a careful appreciation for the stylistic and cinematographic choices made in this film and it is evident that Franco put in the work to make this happen. If nothing else, it shows the younger Franco’s promise as a director and I hope that he goes on to make more. The Rental, despite its faults, is a greater testament to Dave Franco’s talents behind the screen than The Disaster Artist was to James Franco.
The cast work with what they are given and, at the very least, provides another reason to stay until the end. In the aftermath of what happens to this crew, it is the ending that proves to be more mysterious, eery, and terrifying than anything that preceded it. Glimpses of the film’s villain and his or her activities shed light on the nature and circumstances of the film that has just been watched.
So, with all said and done, The Rental may be good to pass some time at home, but it is not a movie we will be talking about a year, let alone a few months, from now. With many theaters still closed, this is one of the few horror films audiences have gotten since The Invisible Man in January, which now feels to be a lifetime away. As September and October creep up on us, perhaps we will be lucky enough to get some more.