The Rental; Tone is All Over the Place, as Dave Franco’s First Feature is Nothing Special. Grade: C-
The Rental tells a story about two couples, whom rented out a gorgeous house by the beach for the weekend. As the couple thought this was going to be a grand mini vacation, turns out to be their worst nightmare, as someone is watching them closely.
The Cinematography t’was fine in this film. Some shots were hard to make of what’s going on, as the picture looked a bit too dark make of anything going on. I’m not the first one to notice it, apparently those whom watched this at the Drive-In said the exact same thing. I will say the shots I oddly enjoy were when there is steam/fog present, thought those shots were shot very well. The Score was forgettable for the most part, pretty much a standard horror composed score you probably heard a thousand times before. The cast all in all were fine as well. Alison Brie playing Michelle played a fine performance. Where Alison Brie struggles is the ability to make the audience believe she’s on drugs, could be due to poor direction, but there should’ve been moments where her character is tripping hard during a very terrible situation. Michelle as a character was pretty basic, though I will say I was rooting for her in the third act, cheering her on so that’s something worth celebrating I guess. Dan Stevens playing Charlie played a solid performance. Charlie maybe the most unlikable character for the right reasons. He’s selfish, stubborn, and honestly a douche bag. How he thinks of his brother and what he does to his brother makes me vomit honestly, here’s a guy trying to pick up his feet, yet all his brother does is criticize him and even worst trying to take away the source of his progression. Shelia Vand playing Mina had a fine performance. The character Mina herself is honestly the worst character, as she appears to be a whiny little child, who is also selfish as well. Throughout the vacation she whines about how the landlord of this house. I get this guy maybe a douche bag, but are you going to choose to ruin your own happiness by thinking about this guy?! You’re with your boyfriend and friends, just have a good time. Lastly Josh played by Jeremy Allen White had a solid performance as well. The character Josh was fine on paper, a man trying to figure himself out as he had a rough past. We care about the character because he’s vulnerable as you would like to see him continue his success of progression.
So this is Dave Franco’s first feature film, a well known cool actor you’ve seen in comedies and sometimes dramas. As an actor Dave Franco is enjoyable on screen, may not be as good as his brother, but certainly has the personality to be in films. From the looks of The Rental, certainly Dave Franco has a lot of work to do going forward with his film making career, as this certainly wasn’t special by any means.
What bothers me about The Rental, is the lack of originality. Sure this takes place at an Air BnB, the thing is it’s not any different compared to a hotel. So when I think of this film, I think of much better horror films taken place in this setting, whether it be 1408, Vacancy, and heck throw in Identity since this film almost attempted a physiological approach. I also thought of 13 Cameras while partaking this film, as this film also features a crazy guy that puts up hidden cameras in this house. Difference is the crazy guy in 13 Cameras appears to be an actual character in that film, though he appears completely insane, at least he was far more entertaining and even worth saying original than the antagonist in this film. The antagonist in this film is only shown the last ten minutes, as his appearance felt a bit dull for my taste. He’s just some psychopath with a cheap knock off mask we’ve seen thousands of times before in horror.
The story itself is mediocre at best. Starts off slow, then picks itself up, then just goes on a steady yet uneventful slope till the end credits. The beginning was honestly very boring, it’s due to the fact the dialogue in this film is pretty weak. You have grown adults saying many cuss words in their vocabulary, in which the film maker wants you to be invested in these conversations, yet fails because the dialogue is never once interesting, smart, nor goes on par with the description of our characters. Where the film picked up for me is when Mina finds the hidden camera, as the film finally started to become engaging. Due to what our characters do in the house, they would certainly not go forward in contacting the authorities, as the characters had personal issues of their own that is caught on camera, so at least it made sense as you’re invested in what happens going forward.
I think the problem with this film, is the fact it takes on many different tones. On one hand it’s a drama, next thing it could be a physiological drama, then becomes a slasher horror... All tones don’t really mesh well together. I would’ve liked to have this film as a physiological drama, where paranoia would be the real antagonist in this film. Instead it ends as a slasher horror film as it was just kind of lame to be honest. It’s one thing to be influence by other horror films, yet you have to do make significant changes. Having this film set in an Air BnB is not a significant change other than the setting itself, you have to make changes in the story that way cliches we’ve seen a thousand times before don’t become noticeable from a mile away. The predictability in this film also irritated me, I predicted what was bound to happen several times as I got it right every single time... That’s not what you want in a horror film. Be bold, be creative, try new things that horror fans have never seen before. Don’t mimic other horror films, unless you want to create something that is truly not special and will certainly be forgotten within a couple weeks. I don’t think this film is by any means bad, but certainly could’ve been much better, or even exciting because this felt dull for what it was going for.
Overall, The Rental is mediocre. I honestly don’t recommend this film, certainly not really worth the money nor time even, just watch the horror films I said were better. 13 Cameras may not be good either, but at least I can say it’s entertaining to a certain degree, compared to the likes of The Rental. Dave Franco you are a cool actor may and I love ya, but man oh man please improve going forward if you choose to make another film. -Mitch Smietana