Two couples on an oceanside getaway grow suspicious that the host of their seemingly perfect rental house may be spying on them. Before long, 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. Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, and Sheila Vand star in this unnerving and sophisticated debut thriller from Dave Franco (NEIGHBORS, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, THE DISASTER ARTIST).
My husband happens to have an Airbnb listing. Dave Franco just made our lives a whole lot more difficult and I’m not even mad about it. With one hell of a cast at his behest, he dives headfirst into the feature-length game with The Rental. The script is juicy and unafraid. Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Band, and Jeremy Allen White leave you enmeshed in their emotional baggage. From the very first scene, you feel a subconscious bait and switch in the blocking. As someone who has always had close colleagues of the opposite sex, boundaries are constantly an issue regardless of relationship status. Two couples silently pitted against one another but the dynamics are not what you’d expect. It’s the secrets and lies that drive this plot forward. Add in a more sinister element and you’ve got a storyline that you will not see coming. Alongside Franco in the screenwriting seat in Joe Swanberg, who you can always count on for some true to life complexities. This was a great pairing.
Dan Stevens, whose star has been steadily rising since his departure from Downton Abbey, is strong as ever. We know by now he’s a full-blown Hollywood star. Sheila Vand, who just so happens to be the star of one of my very favorite films of all time, (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) is having an excellent year with Snowpiercer the TV series and The Wave. Here, once again, she is a tour de force. She’s an empowered role model while certainly owning her own failures. Alison Brie feels like a quieter presence but in reality, we are her character for more of the film than we realize. Jeremy Allen White might actually be the most sympathetic of the four. The challenge to his past transgressions is huge. These are really only things that struck me in ful as I have been sitting on them since viewing.
These characters and performances are ridiculously nuanced. You may find yourself not wanting to root for them at one moment but then screaming at the screen the next. It’s confusing and manipulative and I am here for it all. The idyllic setting and isolation add to both the tension and the endgame. Without spoiling anything, it was an incredibly smart choice. Heads up, there is a very brief false ending. You better sit still if you want some real answers. I can safely say I want more from Franco is this is any indication of what he can do. The Rental genuinely through me for a loop in the best way possible.
IFC Films will release THE RENTAL in select Drive-Ins, Theaters and On Demand on Friday, July 24, 2020.
THE RENTAL is the directorial debut of Dave Franco (Neighbors, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Disaster Artist) from a script co-written by Franco and Joe Swanberg (“Easy”, Drinking Buddies). The thriller/horror film stars Alison Brie (“GLOW,” Sleeping With Other People), Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey,” Beauty and the Beast), Jeremy Allen White (“Shameless”, Movie 43) and Sheila Vand (“Snowpiercer,” A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night).