Actor Dave Franco makes a strong directorial debut with The Rental. The concept of the film might not be wholly original, but Franco litters the film with enough well played characterisation and tense moments to make it well worth your time.
Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Vand, Jeremy Allen White play two couples who hire a swish Airbnb for a celebratory weekend. However, things turn sour when they begin to suspect that the owner of the house is spying on them. Untold truths and a stranger lurking in the shadows make the weekend anything but relaxing.
The Rental shows that Dave Franco has what it takes to deliver a well-honed character driven thriller. It’s a film which works because the script feels real and the performances from the cast are great. Franco’s script with Joe Swanberg resonates and while the film might take a while to get going, it offers up something a little different from the usual hack and slash.
The film is as much a relationship drama as it is a thriller, and in a way it’s a shame that it has to compromise this by delivering genre complications. The Rental’s midpoint is where things go wrong and it would seem that Franco and Swanberg didn’t quite have the confidence to segue from the character work to the blood work. It’s not badly done, it’s just a little clumsy. Having said that, there are hints of M.Night Shyamalan in Franco’s style, while Jordan Peele’s Get Out also feels like something of a tonal touchstone.
On a technical level, The Rental also works. Strong production design and visuals from cinematographer Christian Sprenger make sure that Franco’s film looks great. Meanwhile, the score from composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaan help to up the tension and the story progresses.
The Rental is far from perfect, but Dave Franco’s film is an enjoyable and well crafted film and it doesn’t outstay its welcome with an 88 minute running time. A solid script, and good cast make this worth your time. At the very least, it will have you rethinking your next Airbnb rental.