THE RENTAL is a new IFC horror thriller by Dave Franco with a screenplay he co-wrote with Joe Swanberg. The movie has a lot going for it in terms of a creepy vibe. Unfortunately, it’s also too easy to guess. And what about the dog? Read our full The Rental movie review here!

THE RENTAL is a new thriller/horror film from IFC. The fact that IFC is releasing this is a seal of approval and certainly means that it’ll have a high-quality level. And it does!

I just can’t help but think that I’ve seen this entire play out before and often better. Or, to put it differently; The cast is very good and the story is ultimately very interesting. However, for a good 60% of its runtime, The Rental is a relationship drama while the final part turns into a horror thriller. That’s a difficult jump to make when it comes so late!

Also, don’t make me wonder where the dog is 95% of the time?! Continue reading our The Rental movie review below.

From classic drama to pure horror-thriller

While The Rental feels like a classic relationship drama for the longest time, it really does become a hardcore horror-thriller towards the end. The problem with this is the fact that we’re now pretty annoyed with most of the characters. Okay, not with Alison Brie, but she’s always wonderful and in this movie, she’s the heart and soul of everything!

You might likeCheck out our review of Alison Brie’s movie Horse Girl on Netflix now >

Once we do get to the truly dark, horror elements of the story, it does escalate fairly quickly. Which is a very good thing!

Now, the problem is simply that genre-fans will have seen it all before. There are plot devices from The Open House which was a Netflix movie with an ending that confused many in all its simplicity. Also, there are elements of various other horror-thrillers such as the super creepy 14 cameras or even Within in a different way.

Is it entertaining? Well, sure, yes.

But it’s not surprising or new in any way. This means you’ll probably guess most “twists” way ahead of them happening. Basically, you need to just sit back and let it play out. Don’t try to guess what will happen next since odds are, you will.

Where is the dog?!

Look, I am a dog person. Actually, I’m just an animal lover and it’s no secret (in fact, it’s in my author bio) that I loathe when animals are harmed in movies. Now, this is a total spoiler, but it’s not that the dog in The Rental is hurt. Instead, it seems to just be forgotten for long periods of time.

Anyone, who owns a dog – or has been responsible for any animal – should know that you keep an eye on the animal. In The Rental, the dog is a French Bulldog and it’s brought along to the beach house despite animals not being allowed. However, then no one seems to wonder where the dog is during the entire day.

One, this gives me total anxiety since I’m constantly worrying about when something terrible will happen to the dog! And two, it’s sloppy writing and just totally unrealistic.

This, in turn, makes everything pretty annoying since I’m now extra aware of all the other unrealistic elements. Also, it’s way too obvious, that the dog is meant to be used for a (very minor) plot issue. In the meantime, no one thinks about the dog that just had to come along for the weekend.

As any French Bulldog owner knows, this is not a breed that just walks around on its own for days at a time.

That may be the most unrealistic thing I’ve seen in a movie for a long time. Sure, you might think this is silly. However, hopefully, you can relate to the fact that if a core plot element, such as this, is out of wack, then everything seems to crumble.

Watch The Rental movie in Theaters and On Demand

The Rental is Dave Franco’s feature film debut as a director and screenwriter. Even though there are elements of this movie that I am not a fan of, the overall style and pace of The Rental is gorgeous and shows great potential. My issues with this movie are mostly tied to the storyline.

The screenplay was written by Dave Franco and Joe Swanberg, which surprised me quite a lot. I am usually very happy with the stories from Joe Swanberg since he tends to bring something new (or at least different) to the table. Joe Swanberg most recently created the Netflix anthology series Easy but he also worked on the V/H/S horror anthology back in 2012.

Look, maybe I’m just jaded from having watched so many genre productions over the years. I can’t say that the production quality or cast performances were bad. They weren’t at all. In fact, everything is top-notch in that regard. I just expected more and especially the story did not work for me.

However, if I was to comment purely from a horror-thriller perspective, I will say that the final part of this movie hits all the right spots. So, if you’re in the mood for something creepy (and don’t have plans to rent a holiday home anytime soon), then do check out The Rental movie.

The Rental is out in select Drive-Ins, Theaters and On Demand on July 24, 2020.


Director: Dave Franco
Writers: Dave Franco, Joe Swanberg
Stars: Alison Brie, Jovani Ridler, Toby Huss, Jeremy Allen White, Sheila Vand


Two couples on an oceanside getaway grow suspicious that the host of their seemingly perfect rental house may be spying on them. Before long, what should have been a celebratory weekend trip turns into something far more sinister, as well-kept secrets are exposed and the four old friends come to see each other in a whole new light.

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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