The Rental: The BRWC Review – Dave Franco’s directorial debut is a thriller/horror depicting two young couples who rent an Airbnb for a weekend away that turns sinister. With wonderful scenery, a team of fine actors, and a promising premise, Dave Franco and Joe Swanberg’s storyline and script are unfortunately a complete mess.
A horror film where the antagonist uses modern tech as a weapon, and with young successful characters working in the tech industry who have an unfortunate experience through Airbnb, is a cool, relatable, fresh, and current idea. Haven’t we all had secret fears of weekend rentals going wrong, and suspicions of eccentric hosts?
When the drugs were introduced, I thought this was again socially relevant, and a good script device to see our protagonists unarmed, and an opportunity for the antagonist to start “messing with them”. This does not happen. Instead we saw an affair play out- leading me to believe that perhaps the group would kill each other off. Another direction was presented when the cheating couple discovered that their misdeeds had been filmed by tiny hidden cameras, making me suspicious of the host.
The host then died of unexplained reasons and the group, thinking it was their fault, decided to hide evidence of the death. As there were some disagreements on the plan, I was led back to my original idea that they would kill each other off. When videos of the cheating couple in the act, started randomly appearing on TVs and iPhones, I started to realise I was watching a cheap rip-off of The Strangers (2008).
The characters then started dying off in the stereotypical horror genre order, but leaving us with a heroin who defied all role stereotypes in being intelligent, flawed, successful, a woman, and Arabic. Unfortunately she quickly died an anticlimactic death and we were left with a masked killer with no clear motive and no backstory. I later read on IMDB that this character’s name was “Old Charlie”, Charlie being the name of one of the renters, which makes absolutely no sense, unless the movie is also of the sci-fi and supernatural genres.
End of Spoilers
Furthermore, the level of “horror” was very family friendly; I expected more from one of the boundary-pushing Franco brothers.
In all, The Rental is a colossal disappointment. There were far too many pointless conversations and loose ends, and the story felt like it had no point. If this film wasn’t written by Dave Franco, I doubt it would have been made.
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