Dave Franco’s first excursion behind the camera may not be a blessing for prospective Airbnb patrons, but it’s the chance to offer some unnerving angst with co-writer Joe Swanberg. It could be considered a cousin to recent fare like Lodge or You Should Have Left.
The Rental stars Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, Alison Brie and Sheila Band and is a trim if uneven venture that does benefit from its casting. As Well as the neophyte’s craft contributors to create tension starting from a gorgeous idyllic cliffside getaway in the Pacific Northwest.
Stevens and White are brothers Charlie and Josh, while Brie and Vand are their respective girlfriends, Michelle and Mina. This weekend with hiking and drinking is prompted by a windfall from Charlie and Mina’s professional startup collaboration.
Trouble will be in store for this foursome as Mina (of Iranian descent) can’t book the swank property after a virtual tour. It doesn’t help that she has a face the creepy, passive-aggressive caretaker in Taylor, filled with palpable menace by Toby Huss.
A relationship drama is heightened for a while with technology providing some intrusion when it comes to a telescope and a shower head, for example. Especially, from decision making the puts the business couple in a precarious position.
Nevertheless, all appears pretty inviting for some time with plenty of salty talk that accompany such folk having varied qualities to be creditably connected. Notably, as skeletons come out of the closet. Then, a plot revelation shifts the proceedings into a conventional mode that wouldn’t be out of place in well-known horror franchises with not much campiness.
It’s not that Franco (known for roles in films like Neighbors or Now you See Me) can’t persuade his crew or performers to make situations or sequences invariably shaded or interest. The material just appears to run out on them that perhaps makes the entire affair appear prefabricated especially based on how it all wraps up as plenty of low-lighting and mist are in the later woody environs.
Yet, from the way unsympathetic characters are etched with Brie contributing part of her witty repertoire, and Vand’s pragmatism as well as Stevens’ veteran presence (in a turnabout from Downton Abbey and a recent streaming entry opposite Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams) this burgeoning helmsman displays much promise. As he gradually hones cohesive stories with the joy he has for his art and colleagues. Looks to be following in the footsteps of eccentric, if more well-known older brother, James.