Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Dave Franco|
|Edited by||Kyle Reiter|
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
|Box office||$2.8 million|
The Rental is a 2020 American horror film produced and directed by Dave Franco, in his directorial debut. Franco co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Swanberg, based on a story by the pair and Mike Demski. It stars Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Vand, Jeremy Allen White, and Toby Huss, and follows two couples who begin to suspect they are being watched in the house they rented.
The film was released on video-on-demand and in select theaters in the United States on July 24, 2020, by IFC Films. It received generally positive reviews from critics, and became the second film to ever top VOD charts and the box office in the same weekend.
Charlie, his wife Michelle, his brother Josh, and his business partner Mina (who is also Josh's girlfriend) rent an seaside house for a weekend getaway. Upon arriving at the remote property, the group meets the property caretaker Taylor, who acts oddly and makes comments to Mina that appear to be racially motivated. After Taylor leaves, Mina, Josh, and Charlie get high and Michelle goes to bed.
Josh passes out on a couch, and Mina and Charlie have sex in the shower. The next morning, a hungover Mina and Charlie agree they can never be intimate again, while Josh mentions to Michelle that Charlie has cheated on several former girlfriends, making Michelle doubt Charlie. Mina discovers a minicamera in the showerhead and alerts Charlie. The two are confident that Taylor has installed the cameras and filmed them. Charlie stops her from alerting the police, reasoning that doing so would mean that in the police inquiry, Michelle and Josh would see the footage of them having sex. They decide instead to leave the next morning.
That night, Michelle gets high and calls Taylor to fix the hot tub. Mina privately confronts Taylor about the hidden cameras, which he claims to be unaware of. He attempts to call the police himself; Mina tries to stop him. Josh rushes in and, assuming Taylor is attacking her, beats him unconscious. Mina tells everyone about the hidden camera in the shower. Meanwhile, a masked man sneaks inside and smothers Taylor to death. When the others return and find Taylor dead, they assume that Josh has accidentally killed him.
A frantic Michelle demands they call the police, but Charlie refuses to let his brother go to jail, and says they should stage Taylor's death as an accident by throwing him off the cliff into the ocean. Despondent at her husband's coldness, Michelle stays behind while the others carry Taylor's body to the cliff. The body falls onto an outcrop, forcing Josh to go down and push it into the sea. Michelle is lured to a television that shows footage of Mina and Charlie having sex the night before. When the other three return, they find her leaving; Charlie tries to stop her, and she tells him she saw the film and leaves. Down the road, she drives over a spike strip and crashes into a tree.
Charlie gets a text from Michelle's phone and goes to search for her. Mina and Josh look for the shower camera's transceiver to destroy any footage of Josh assaulting Taylor. Charlie finds Michelle's dead body in the road before also being murdered by the masked man. Back at the rental, Josh receives messages from Charlie's phone that confirm Charlie and Mina had sex. When he hears someone enter the house, he goes down, planning to confront Charlie. Instead, the masked man kills Josh and hunts for Mina, who sneaks outside. He pursues her, and Mina, disoriented by the fog, falls off the cliff and into the ocean.
The masked man returns to the house, removing all evidence and surveillance equipment. He rents a new property and installs cameras into it. Oblivious new inhabitants rent the location, and the masked man attacks a sleeping couple.
- Dan Stevens as Charlie, Michelle's husband and Josh's brother
- Alison Brie as Michelle, Charlie's wife
- Sheila Vand as Mina, Josh's girlfriend and Charlie's business partner
- Jeremy Allen White as Josh, Mina's boyfriend and Charlie's brother
- Toby Huss as Taylor
- Anthony Molinari as the man
In March 2019, it was announced Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand and Jeremy Allen White had joined the cast of the film, with Dave Franco directing from a screenplay he wrote alongside Joe Swanberg. Franco, Elizabeth Haggard, Ben Stillman, Teddy Schwarzman, Swanberg, Christopher Storer served as producers on the film, under their Ramona Films and Black Bear Pictures banners, respectively, while Michael Heimler and Sean Durkin acted as executive producers.
Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans composed the film's score, released by Lakeshore Records.
In April 2020, IFC Films acquired distribution rights to the film and scheduled it to be released on July 24, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film held its premiere at the Vineland Drive-In theatre in City of Industry, California on June 18, 2020.
Box office and VOD
The film made an estimated $130,000 from 251 theaters in its first day, and $420,871 over the weekend, topping the box office. It also was the top-rented film on Apple TV, the iTunes Store and other streaming services, becoming just the second film to ever top both the box office and rental charts. In its second weekend the film retained the top spot at the box office, grossing $290,272 from 242 theaters. It also remained in the top 10 at the iTunes Store, Apple TV, and Spectrum's rental charts. In its third weekend the film made $123,700 at the box office and came in fourth, while also remaining the top-rented horror film at iTunes.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 75% based on 170 reviews, with an average rating of 6.38/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Some tricky genre juggling makes The Rental a bit of a fixer-upper, but effective chills and a solid cast make this a fine destination for horror fans." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying: "The Rental would have worked purely as a compelling character study about four dysfunctional adults unraveling over the course of a long weekend — but when the presence of a homicidal maniac is introduced to the proceedings, the transition to horror film is brilliant and wacky and pretty darn great." Owen Gleiberman of Variety said the film had "tense flavor and skill" and wrote: "There's some crafty artistry at work in The Rental, and also some fairly standard pandering, which feels like a violation of the movie's better instincts. That said, most of it is skillful and engrossing enough to establish Franco as a director to watch."
Franco has voiced his interest in a sequel, saying: "It was the intention from the beginning to leave the ending ambiguous enough that we carry on the story if given a chance... I have a very strong idea for what I would want to do with a sequel."
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