Business startup partners Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (Sheila Vand) are celebrating the success of their company by looking at Airbnb rentals for a weekend getaway. As Mina casually rests on Charlie, looking over his shoulder at the amazing, but expensive house they’re thinking of renting, you get the impression they are a couple. That is, until Charlie’s brother Josh (Jeremy Allen White) walks in, and we learn that it is Josh and Mina who are together. And that the weekend trip is to include Charlie’s wife Michelle (Alison Brie).
Some obstacles to a perfect weekend arise before the foursome even make it to their rented house. Josh has decided to bring along his dog, Reggie, a violation of the homeowners no-pets rule, and Mina is concerned that the homeowner may be racist. She had tried to book the exact same house just an hour before Charlie did but was turned down, and she believes her Middle-Eastern name (her surname is Mohammadi) was the reason.
They arrive at the idyllic house, set out in the woods and right by the ocean, where they are greeted by the caretaker, and brother of the homeowner, Taylor (Toby Huss). He’s not exactly a welcoming barrel of laughs though – unhappy at the group for arriving an hour late and definitely giving off some racist vibes towards Mina which only add fuel to the concerns she’d raised in the car earlier.
With Taylor gone, the couples begin to settle into their weekend break with some music, drink and drugs. When Josh and Michelle decide to get an early night in preparation for a planned hike the next day, business partners Charlie and Mina decide to go and try out the hottub. And, well, I’m sure you can figure out how much of a mistake that turns out to be. To top it all off, somebody seems to be watching the group from afar…
The Rental is the directorial debut of actor Dave Franco. It’s a horror movie, but spends half of its 88 minute runtime with very little happening at all. If it wasn’t for the foreboding music, and the occasional hint at some sort of stalker, you’d think this was just a drama about two couples getting themselves into a whole heap of trouble in a strangers house.
When things do begin to shift, some potentially interesting twists and plot setups quickly fall by the wayside, as The Rental slips into being just a very generic slasher movie with nothing we haven’t seen before. I suddenly realised just how interesting that first half was in comparison and what a waste of a great cast it was.
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