The Rental Review: Dave Franco’s Directorial Debut Makes You Think Twice About Renting Vacay Homes

The movie takes its time to get under your skin.

The Rental (NC16)

Starring Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, Sheila Vand, Toby Huss

Directed by Dave Franco

Dave Franco, James Franco’s younger brother — best known his comedic roles in Bad Neighbours and Now You See Me — makes his directorial debut with this eerie cautionary tale about the dark side of the sharing economy. 

It starts out innocuously as a tense relationship drama about two couples (Dan Stevens and Alison Brie, and Jeremy Allen White and Sheila Vand) spending the weekend at a picturesque rented cliff-top house. 

It’s supposed to be celebratory getaway (Drugs! Booze! Sex!) but things get dark fast following a momentary lapse in judgment on the part of the house-guests, triggering series of regrettable choices. But that’s the least of their worries. 

At its core, The Rental is a simple and effective slasher flick that patiently takes its time to arrive at its macabre destination. Don’t worry: the runtime is under 90 minutes, so you don't have to wait too long. 

The big shocks don’t, er, check in until the final 20 minutes but Franco, clearly a disciple of The Shining and Hereditary, does an admirable job of cranking up the suspense, filling the screen — and every corner of the titular property (the year’s second most sinister-looking luxury house after the coastal home/lair in The Invisible Man) — with an unshakable sense of dread and unease. 

And when the house lights go up, you’ll never look at vacay rental homes the same way again. (***1/2)

Photo: Golden Village/IFC Films

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