Horror Thriller

The Rental

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Check in to the rental house of horror.

Dave Franco is best known for his mainstream comedies (“Superbad,” “Now You See Me,” “21 Jump Street,” “Neighbors,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” etc.) and for being James Franco’s younger brother. He now steps up his game by co-writing and co-producing with Joe Swanberg, and directing the new horror-thriller “The Rental.”

At this point, he continues a legacy that the scariest movies (good or bad) have to take place a rental home. We’ve seen it in “The Shining,” “The Strangers,” “Us,” “The Lodge,” and so forth. Now, we’re discussing about “The Rental,” which will catch you completely by surprise. It’s a near-perfect blend of horror and drama, and eases you into the tension.

The story involves two brothers-the successful Charlie (Dan Stevens) and the Lyft slacker Josh (Jeremy Allen White from “Shameless”)-taking their ladies to an Airbnb vacation home for the weekend. Charlie is married to Michelle (Alison Brie, Dave’s wife), while Josh is dating his brother’s business partner Mina (Sheila Vand from “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” and “Argo”).

The house is taken care of by Taylor (Toby Huss), whose brother never uses it. For some reason, Mina, being of Iranian decent, was denied her request to rent the house, while Charlie, a white man, was able to. Is this about to become “Get Out” or like the racism of an African-American man being denied a taxi ride? I think it’s the cab reference. And she’s also concerned about the man’s behavior, like dropping off his telescope inside the house when they’re not inside.

But those issues are nothing compared to what Charlie and Mina find in their showers, security cameras hidden in the sprays. They were making out in the showers, and they report this to the police, their spouses will find out. Now, this is when all Hell breaks loose.

We don’t really get a clear understanding about why they have to be the targets of death, other than the cameras catching the affair on tape, but we do see how Franco handles the psycho and victims. The victims come to terms with their unfaithfulness, while worrying about the consequences of their actions. It’s not just the affair, keep in mind, but I won’t spoil what happens next. I want you to see “The Rental” for yourselves.

The performances from the cast are both original and emotional. Stevens, Brie, Vand, and White are all able to grasp their characters’ perspectives and decisions, and we become concerned about where they will head off. It’s how they’re guided that makes them so riveting.

This is from IFC Films, which means the movie can forget all those blockbuster horror movie cliches. I know I say this a lot, but I’m just expressing my honest opinion about how these artisan horror-thrillers resonate with the classics, and keep you involved every step of the way. I, for one, cannot stand jump scares, and I’m happy to find current ones that don’t succumb to the basics and formulas. “The Rental” takes risks, and Franco delivers the goods.

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Available on AppleTV and Google Play

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