RENT-A-PAL is a new horror-thriller released by IFC Midnight. It starts out as sad and quirky but turns creepy and violent. Due to the genres of this movie, I do mean that as a compliment. It’s very accomplished. Read our full Rent-A-Pal movie review here!

RENT-A-PAL is a new IFC Midnight movie. We’re in the horror and thriller genre, which essentially means we’re starting out with a thriller and end up in a straight-up horror story.

The story in this IFC horror-thriller is very simple, but it works extremely well. There’s a tint of nostalgia since the story plays out in 1990 and VHS tapes are a big part of the plot. Also, much of this story feels very realistic which is both sad and very scary.

Continue reading our Rent-A-Pal movie review below.

From dating to finding a BFF

Rent-A-Pal is all about David, who is portrayed brilliantly by Brian Landis Folkins. If he didn’t give such a stellar performance, this movie would not have worked in any way. David is a lonely guy, who lives with his mom as her caretaker. He’s quite sad but tries to just carry on with his life.

Also, he’s quite meek and soft-spoken in most cases. Of course, that doesn’t mean he can’t be pressured or pushed to react differently. Which he does. And when he does, you will want to hide and apologize profusely. He does turn that scary very fast.

Because Andy is so very lonely, he tries the 1990 version of online dating; Dating via VHS tapes. People record a short video message and an agency tries to match up videos. Yes, it was a thing. A quite normal thing.

When the dating thing doesn’t really work out, David tries something different, when he finds the Rent-A-Pal tape in the bargain bin at the dating agency. Rent-a-Pal is all about friendship and in this case, your friend will be Andy (Wil Wheaton).

The iconic Wil Wheaton from Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) and Stand By Me (1986) – and more recently Pooka Lives! (2020) – is both charming and very creepy as Andy. The less you know, the better.

RENT-A-PAL Movie Review

Watch Rent-A-Pal now!

Rent-A-Pal was written and directed by Jon Stevenson. This is actually the directorial debut for Jon Stevenson and one he should be damn proud of. The style and vibe are distinct and clear from the beginning until the very end. Despite the obvious changes in tone, obviously.

We do go from having the story play out in a somewhat sad, but normal, home to one of pure terror.

It’s not easy to describe this movie without it sounding too weird and really, you should go into this without knowing too much. The lead character, David, is portrayed so intensely by Brian Landis Folkins that you will be intrigued and captured immediately.

Also, be sure to stick around for the end credit scene. It’s short but sweet… or something. Don’t miss it!

Rent-A-Pal is out in select theaters, digital & cable VOD from September 11, 2020. From December 11, 2020 the movie will also be out on Hulu.


Director: Jon Stevenson
Writer: Jon Stevenson
Stars: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Amy Rutledge, Kathleen Brady, Adrian Egolf


Set in 1990, a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins) searches for an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a video dating service, he discovers a strange VHS tape called Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by the charming and charismatic Andy (Wil Wheaton), the tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship. But, Andy’s friendship comes at a cost, and David desperately struggles to afford the price of admission.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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