Dave Franco, brother of James, makes his directorial debut (and also co-wrote the screenplay) with The Rental, a serviceable slasher film that proves the newbie director can successfully create a creepy vibe.
The film isn’t all that original, and you won’t feel any major sense of surprise when the story ends. You might, however, refrain from renting a vacation home on the Oregon coast anytime soon.
Charlie and Michelle (Dan Stevens and Alison Brie) are looking to get away for the weekend. They rent a fancy house and bring along Charlie’s brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White), and Josh’s girlfriend, Mina (Sheila Vand), for company. After an awkward meeting with the caretaker (Toby Huss, amassing a nice horror-film resume with this and the recent Halloween), the weekend gets off to a pleasant-enough start. Then the drugs come out … and bad things happen. When Mina discovers a camera in the shower, justified paranoia reigns—and then the bodies start piling up.
Franco keeps the audience guessing about who is creating the bloody mayhem. The resolution irked me at first, but it’s growing on me. The performances help put the film over the top, as does the effective score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans. They definitely use sound to keep you on edge.
While The Rental owes much to previous films like Vacancy, it’s a promising start for Franco, who manages to give the film enough coolness to warrant a rental if you are a horror aficionado.
The Rental is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.