Friday, September 11, 2020

Movie Review: ‘The Rental’ an uneasy, heart-pounding thriller

By Matt Pascarella

Two couples book a picturesque house on the edge of a cliff for a weekend getaway and that’s the start of ‘The Rental,’ a new film available for streaming from VUDU. As the weekend progresses, a few unsettling discoveries makes it apparent this rental isn’t as charming as it initially appeared to be.

Couple Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Michelle (Alison Brie) book a vacation house for a weekend with couple Mina (Sheila Vand) and Josh (Jeremy Allen White). Charlie and Mina work together, and Josh and Charlie are brothers.

The house is amazing. However, once they meet the owner/renter Taylor (Toby Huss), he’s weird from the start. He says things like “why would you need a telescope in the city? Are you guys like peeping toms?” when Michelle expresses disappointment because she forgot her telescope. He’s also bigoted towards Mina. But that strange and inappropriate behavior is just the beginning.

As they are checking out the property when they first arrive, Josh finds a door under the deck with an electronic lock on it. Unusual? Only time will tell.

Later that night, Mina and Charlie kiss, which ends up turning into more.

The next day, when they are all supposed to go on a hike and Charlie and Mina stay behind; the two agree that what happened the previous night can never happen again. Meanwhile, while Michelle and Josh are on a hike, some secrets come out about Charlie that upset Michelle.

Mina makes a very alarming discovery in the bathroom that makes Taylor even creepier than he may have originally appeared. This angers both Charlie and Mina who need their secret night not to get out.

When the hot tub breaks, Michelle calls Taylor to have him fix it; unaware of Charlie and Mina’s irritation with him. Taylor comes over and is confronted by Josh. Tensions only continue to rise from there, turning into an altercation when Mina confronts Taylor about what she found in the bathroom. From there, things go from bad to worse.

Everyone begins to freak out a little and Michelle is so distraught, she takes their only car and leaves after she makes a discovery of her own. She doesn’t get far though.

Is Taylor or someone else following the four of them?

Why? What happens to the group?  

I was expecting a decent thriller and that’s exactly what I got. The well-paced plot sets the scene for something to obviously go wrong with this picture-perfect, Airbnb-type rental. While some parts of the movie are predictable, there were other parts where the plot didn’t go where I thought it would. There is some drug use, language and sex and a few gruesome scenes.

The plot is plausible and particularly unsettling, because renting a house for a weekend is not an uncommon occurrence. As this perfect weekend begins to unravel, I wanted to know how the characters were going to deal with everything and what was going to happen next.

‘The Rental’ is worth a rental. Five stars. <

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