Last year in the black hole of horror movies being delayed due to the pandemic, Dave Franco quietly released his directorial debut, a horror movie called The Rental. He also produced and co-wrote the script with Joseph Swanberg, who wrote one of the segments in the original V/H/S (2012). Franco’s wife, Alison Brie, starred and was one of only six actors in the entire project.
The Rental is about a married couple, Charlie and Michelle, who plan a weekend trip to a vacation rental property. Charlie’s brother, Joshua, and his business partner, Mina, are a couple and also join in the trip. When they arrive at the vacation rental they meet the owner, Taylor, who gives them all the creeps.
Eager to get the weekend started, the friends take MDMA. After Michelle and Josh fall asleep, Charlie and Mina have sex in the shower. Horrified in the morning, they vow to not tell their partners and never do it again. It’s a pretty good plan until they find a small camera hidden in the bathroom’s shower head.
If that description doesn’t hook you, the trailer is pretty slick:
I’m psyched about Franco’s writing/directorial entry into the horror genre. A long time fan, he thinks there’s no reason horror movies can’t get the recognition serious dramas get. Talking to Forbes about The Rental, he said “I think the reason why Ari Aster’s films work, for example, is because he approaches them like art films, it is about the characters and the relationships within that movie. It just happens to be a horror film, too; it happens to be scary.” That quote is a great description for The Rental itself. The drama is real, the events that cause it only happen to be horrifying.
There’s another reason Franco chose to make a horror film set entirely in a remote vacation rental: it’s a cheap way to make a movie. The film has only one location, only six actors, and takes place in one weekend. Of leaving his home in Los Angeles to make the movie, Franco also tells this super cute story for fellow cat moms and dads:
My wife was with me, but we also brought our cat with us. It was the first time our cat had ever been on a plane, and it was the first time our cat had ever seen the ocean. It was a special time in our lives where I was surrounded by the people I love making my first film in the middle of nowhere.
That sounds like the state of mind you need to be in to make a good film. The Rental is currently streaming on Showtime or with rental from Amazon. If you love it, Dave Franco says you can have a sequel, as a treat.