REVIEW: ‘The Rental’ falters after promising start

This movie is a good example of why maybe you should just stay at a hotel.

“The Rental” follows two couples, the first being Charlie (Dan Stevens) and his girlfriend Michelle (Allison Brie). The other is Josh (Jeremy Allen White) and his girlfriend Mina. Josh is Charlie’s younger brother, and while the two don’t get along perfectly, they decide to go on a vacation together to a rental house.

Despite meeting a less than pleasant caretaker upon arrival, the four start off the weekend well enough. However, a situation arises that complicates the whole trip and it happens around the same time they notice something strange about the house.

It takes some time for “The Rental” to get to its more suspenseful and thrilling moments, but the journey getting there isn’t too bad. The movie takes time to establish the characters nicely and build some tension by exploring how their relationships are going and adding in a bit of drama.

Two pretty good acts lead into a nice  start for the final third. However, that’s when things start to go off the rails. For everything that was built up in the first half in the movie, it felt like the filmmakers didn’t know what direction to go with things in the second.

Courtesy IFC Films and Black Bear Pictures

The execution gets messy, as a slasher element is brought in, along with efforts by the main characters to cover up an incident of wrongdoing. It never really meshes together. It’s also noticeable that despite introducing the aspect of a slasher, the movie doesn’t even really show the kills all that much, wasting the film’s R rating.

Where the film really crashes, though, is in its ending which just torpedoes the whole experience. There’s a sort of twist/reveal that occurs and it makes a person feel like they just wasted their time watching the rest of the movie.

It’s a shame, too, since these characters are alright. While there a few moments that cross over into melodrama, for the most part following the situations of these characters is compelling enough.

The problem is the stories of these characters don’t particularly go anywhere considering what happens in the final act of the movie. This is despite a solid cast lending some fine work.

“The Rental” is an unfortunate disappointment because things had been going fairly well. While the story of some younger adults going to a rental house or cabin for a vacation where things go wrong is familiar, “The Rental” was handling it pretty good. The third act is just so unfocused, though and it hits the movie hard. What had been an above average thriller sank to a 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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