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“THE RENTAL” A Killer of a Thriller

 

 

Review by John Delia

A few days ago we posted a review of one of the best horror flicks this year and I hold to that opinion. However, The Rental that opens tomorrow is equally as good with all the trappings of being even a tad better. The film sets up its audience in a cunning way to hide any future happenings in a mystery that takes an odd twist as the credits roll. Two in a row shows the power of some independents that with a help of good directing can deliver excellent movies to their fan base.

Alison Brie as “Michelle” in Dave Franco’s THE RENTAL. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

Charlie (Dan Stevens), owner of a business and his partner Mina Mohammadi (Sheila Vand), have just closed a big deal. To celebrate Charlie has rented a secluded cottage estate on a cliff overlooking the ocean with his wife Michelle (Alison Brie). With them will be his brother Josh (Jeremy AllenWhite) and Mina who happens to be in a relationship with him. While Michelle is not too fond of her brother-in-law Josh, who has a police record and works as a LYFT driver, she welcomes the chance to spend some time with Mina.

Dan Stevens as “Charlie” and Alison Brie as “Michelle” in Dave Franco’s THE RENTAL. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

At the estate they are met by Taylor (Toby Huss) who is the caretaker for the property and has provided all the amenities. But, their meeting gets sidetracked by Mina who refers to Taylor as a racist due to ignoring a request due her ethnicity. It hits a bad chord and a weird start to the planned 4 day stay.

Director and co-screenwriter Dave Franco does a very good job helming his first feature film. He moves his film along at a nice pace inserting some unwitting discretions by each of the main characters. He throws in a few surprises that you could see coming only to realize you were fooled. He adds some well positioned violence to jump scare his viewers and then puts two of the characters on the run. It’s some nice directing for someone only known for his acting. Franco has a very good sense of timing, works his audience in a tizzy with some very good misdirection, makes his characters believable to some of today’s social criticisms and knows how to create some nice suspense.

Sheila Vand as “Mina” in Dave Franco’s THE RENTAL. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

In the role of Charlie, Dan Stevens does a great job of showing his weaknesses, one of which will make his wife doubt him leading to trouble that cannot be fixed. He starts out being the leader of the couples, but things start to change for the worse the first time one of the group goes missing.

In the role of Michelle, Dave Franco chose his wife Alison Brie and he was dead on to do so. As Michelle she has to be the dutiful wife and entertain introducing some molly to get the party going. When the hallucinations cut in, she passes on the drug, instead going to bed so she can get up early for a trip into nature. It’s a decision that she will regret.

Dan Stevens as “Charlie,” Sheila Vand as “Mina,” and Jeremy Allen White as “Josh” in Dave Franco’s THE RENTAL. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

The Rental has been rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexuality. In Select Theaters check local listings for a play date theater. Also on VOD for home viewing.

FINAL ANAYSIS: One of the better thrillers this year. (5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast:  Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand
Directed and co-written by: Dave Franco
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexuality
Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.
Opening Date: July 24, 2020
Distributed by: IFC Films
Released in: VOD, Select Theaters

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