“The Rental” is a horror film that managed to hold my interest but not much more beyond that. This is a film where the characters aren’t really explored beyond their base motivations and even with how well they are acted the film cannot be saved. The premise is really neat and the film is beautifully shot but it really could have been more. This is one I won’t recommend though as it needed more to even be fully enjoyable.
This was directed and co-written by Dave Franco who co-wrote it with Joe Swanberg.
The story follows two couples Charlie (Dan Stevens) and his wife Michelle (Allison Brie) go for a weekend getaway with Dan’s brother Josh (Jeremy Allen White) and his girlfriend Mina (Sheila Vand) as relationships begin to fall apart and the house is not all it appears to be.
The Concept – The idea of a rental home being the trapped location for a horror movie is brilliant. It works and it makes sense. Especially with the popularity of AirBnB.
The Cinematography and Environment – The cinematography is dark and mist and fog are used beautifully to mask characters. This ties into the theme with all the lying going on in the film but that is about the only depth this film has.
The Cast – All of the cast does an amazing job, especially with the stock horror tropes they are given. Allison Brie especially does an amazing job as the loving and conflicted wife with the selfish husband and Dan Stevens is great as that selfish husband. They have moments of history we are told that give them complication but they never grow beyond that. The cast again is great but they weren’t given enough to
The Characters – The characters are all tropes. Charlie cheats on Michelle with Mina. Josh is a social outcast and Josh and Mina bring their dog to the rental where one of the rules was no dogs. Mina has regret and is the last of the characters to get killed by the nameless villain and feels outcast from her work but the characters themselves don’t exist beyond tropes. Michelle is the suburban housewife who needs things organized and is trusting and loving. Charlie is the player who is trying to grow. They are all tropes in the end whose arcs remain unfulfilled as the nameless villain kills them all in the end.
The Villain’s Motivation – We never learn who the villain is we just see that he installs cameras in apartments, homes, etc. He is a serial killer but we never learn why he is the way he is or even see his face. There is nothing there and he doesn’t work as a force of nature. We needed more.
This is a horror film that had so much potential to be good. None of the characters are given any nuance even though all the actors do a fantastic job in what they were given. We never learn about who the slasher is or why he is doing what he is doing. It is trying to pull a “Halloween” without putting in the work. The script and characters needed more work to truly get beyond the tropes as even the good performances can’t save empty characters. I wouldn’t recommend this one. There are better horror films out there.
Final Score: 6.5 / 10 The actors really deserved a better story.