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