Actor Dave Franco (IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK; THE DISASTER ARTIST; the NOW YOU SEE ME franchise) is probably best known to most people as James Franco’s little brother. Now, the younger Franco has stepped behind the camera to direct THE RENTAL, his first feature that he also co-wrote (along with Joe Swanberg, DRINKING BUDDIES; Netflix’s EASY) and produced.
Charlie (Dan Stevens, EUROVISION SONG CONTEST; HER SMELL; COLOSSAL; THE COBBLER; TV’s DOWNTON ABBEY), his wife Michelle (Alison Brie, THE DISASTER ARTIST; A FAMILY MAN; TV’s GLOW, COMMUNITY and MAD MEN), his business partner Mina (Sheila Vand, TRIPLE FRONTIER; TV’s SNOWPIERCER) and her boyfriend Josh (Jeremy Allen White, TV’s SHAMELESS), who also happens to be Charlie’s less successful brother, decide to rent a stunning cliffside house overlooking the Pacific coast for a weekend getaway together. Once at the property, they meet Taylor (Toby Huss, HALLOWEEN), the caretaker who says and does a few things that don’t sit well with Mina. With Michelle asleep and Josh passed out on the sofa, Charlie and Mina have shower sex but then decide that they can never do that again. The next day, Mina discovers that the shower head has been fitted with a spy cam. She alerts Charlie and they think that Taylor must have installed it but they agree that they can’t tell Michelle or Josh. As events unfold, Mina spills the beans but that’s not the worst of their problems. A masked man has snuck into the house.
For a first effort, Franco delivers a well-paced thriller with enough jump scares to keep audiences hooked and good performances all around from his actors. My feeling, though, is that the story didn’t need to go in the direction it went with the mysterious masked man. This could have been a good psychological drama with the couples dealing with the fallout of Charlie and Mina’s indiscretion, and what happens afterward. Instead, all hell breaks loose and Franco gives the film an open ending. The director has said in interviews that he’s open to the possibility of a sequel so perhaps that’s why he did.
THE RENTAL has been playing on the streaming services since July. (That’s when I saw it.) It opened in our cinemas in Hong Kong today (November 5th). While it’s certainly a lot better than most of what’s on our screens right now, I have a feeling it won’t be here very long because anyone who has wanted to see it, has already done so.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, November 6th, 8:30 am HK time!
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