JAWS did to swimming in the ocean what THE RENTAL does to staying in Airbnbs. This horror-thriller, co-written and directed by Dave Franco, is one of the genre’s best of the year… just be prepared to go into your next vacation rental with a totally different mindset. And by mindset I mean checking the entire house for cameras, secret rooms, and creepy dudes.
Business partners Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (Sheila Vand), decide to take a long weekend trip to a seaside vacation rental with their respective significant others Michelle (Alison Brie) and Josh (Jeremy Allen White). Josh also happens to be Charlie’s brother. Right off the bat, you start to suspect things are not going to go well when Josh brings his dog along on the trip, despite pets being prohibited, and Mina feels she is being racially stereotyped by the rental house’s caretaker.
It doesn’t take long for tensions with each couple to begin to boil over… especially when it appears Charlie and Mina may be a little closer than their partners feel comfortable with. And when Mina discovers a camera in the shower, the couples realize that although they are technically alone in the house, they may have an unwanted audience watching their every move, even their most intimate moments.
Franco does an amazing job building tension and dread throughout the film. The movie centers around voyeurism and Franco’s use of the camera and atmosphere makes the audience themselves feel like flies on the wall… almost like we shouldn’t be peering into the couples’ vacation house either. Watching the movie late at night especially added to the film’s creepy ambience, so much so I was on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding for most of the film. And even when it was over, I got out of bed to triple-check that my door was locked. It’s that kind of movie.
THE RENTAL will definitely make you think twice about trusting that it’s safe to rent a stranger’s home, regardless of their stellar ratings and hospitable pictures. Throughout the last act of the movie, the unrelenting suspense built by the characters’ contentious relationships (and of course being hunted by a mad man) left me genuinely anxious. If I know my active imagination well, I think this movie will haunt me for a very long time and make no vacation or hotel room feel the same again. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!
My Review: B+