A review of the new thriller THE RENTAL directed by Dave Franco, starring Alison Brie and Dan Stevens.
Two couples on an ocean-side getaway grow suspicious that the host of their seemingly perfect rental house may be spying on them. Before long, what should have been a celebratory weekend trip turns into something far more sinister, as well-kept secrets are exposed and the four old friends come to see each other in a whole new light. Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, and Sheila Vand star in this unnerving and sophisticated debut thriller from Dave Franco (NEIGHBORS, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, THE DISASTER ARTIST).
THE RENTAL was inspired by my own paranoia about the concept of home-sharing, and I think the best way to contextualize the film is with a quote from the founder of AirBNB: “We want to build a website where people publicly post pictures of their most intimate spaces: their bedrooms, the bathrooms— the kinds of rooms you usually keep closed when people come over. And then, over the internet, they’re going to invite complete strangers to come sleep in their homes. It’s going to be huge!” The country is as divided as it’s ever been and no one trusts each other, yet we trust staying in the home of a stranger simply because of a few positive reviews online. This felt like a good jumping off point for a grounded thriller, which could tap into real world fears. Nothing is scarier than something that feels like it could actually happen.
I was inspired by films like THE SHINING, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, BLUE RUIN & HEREDITARY, all of which elevate the thriller/horror genre beyond cheap jump scares. I wanted to imbue a sense of dread starting from the opening frame, that slowly builds and creates tension, even in moments when nothing overtly scary is happening on screen. It’s a fear that creeps up on you and lingers long after the film is over, as you start to look back on every rental home you’ve ever stayed in. [IFC Films]