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Film / The Rental

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The Rental is a 2020 American horror drama film directed, co-written and co-produced by Dave Franco in his feature directorial debut. The film stars Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Vand, Jeremy Allen White, and Toby Huss.

Married couple Charlie (Stevens) and Michelle (Brie) go with Charlie's younger brother Josh (White) and Josh's girlfriend Mina (Vand) to a secluded vacation house on the Oregon coast, which they've rented from an Airbnb expy. However, the group begins to suspect that they are being watched in the house. This paranoia gives way to well-kept secrets between the couples being exposed, and the discovery that something sinister is lurking within the grounds of their seemingly perfect getaway.

The film was released on video-on-demand and in select theaters in the United States on July 24, 2020 by IFC Films.

The film includes examples of the following tropes:

  • All for Nothing: Mina gets in an altercation with Taylor because he threatens to call the cops, which would have threatened them with the possibility of it getting out that she cheated on Josh with Charlie. As soon as they cover up the murder, Michelle finds the footage anyway, so the secret is out. Then the killer sends the evidence to Josh.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Mina and Charlie cheat on their respective partners with each other and do everything to keep their affair secret after learning they've been recorded. They end up incriminating themselves when the innkeeper is murdered thanks to the killer framing Josh, Michelle and Josh find out about the affair anyway, and they all lose their lives.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: The killer turns out to be the unseen previous occupant of the rental house.
  • Downer Ending: Taylor, Michelle, Charlie, and Josh are all killed by the killer and Mina falls to her death while trying to flee. Meanwhile, the killer targets more people.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Mina appears to be the Final Girl... but she accidentally falls off a cliff while trying to run from the killer.
  • Dwindling Party: Michelle dies first, then Charlie tries to help her and gets killed, leaving the party at a two.
  • The Faceless: The killer's face is never seen. He's either wearing a mask or the shot only shows the back of his head.
  • A Family Affair: Mina is in a relationship with Josh, and works with his brother Charlie, who she hooks up with on the first night the group are at the house.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Played with in the case of Josh and Charlie. At first, Charlie appears to be the successful, Happily Married Responsible sibling, with Josh the uneducated ex-con as the Foolish. However, it turns out that Josh is smart, resourceful, and genuinely good-natured, despite his flaws. Charlie, on the other hand, is a major Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who winds up cheating on his wife and cuckolding his own brother.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Josh, who loves Mina very much yet worries that he isn't smart or successful enough for her.
  • Killed Offscreen: Michelle is last seen with the killer rushing at her car crash when she tries to call for help. Her corpse is found by Charlie, who is murdered seconds later.
  • Foreshadowing: Taylor reacts very badly to finding out about the camera. It's because he genuinely didn't put it there and it was only put in the day before.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Mina manages to stick a screwdriver in the killer's face. He simply manages to pull it out and keeps going after her.
  • No Animals Allowed: Dogs aren't allowed at the rental house, but Josh brings his beloved dog Reggie along with him anyhow. The owner's brother, Taylor, gets a very brief Pet the Dog moment where he tells the characters that he doesn't mind having dogs himself, and it's his brother's rule.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Most of the horror of the film comes from how little the audience and the characters know about the killer. Four of the five main cast members are dead before the final survivor, Mina, even realizes that there is a killer. The audience ultimately never learns the killer's name, hears his voice, gets a motive or even sees the killer's face by the end of the film.
  • The Peeping Tom: Mina is horrified to realize there's a camera in the shower after she's been there, and it caught her having sex with Charlie in there too. It turns out there are hidden cameras around the entire house, bedrooms and bathrooms included.
  • Properly Paranoid: Zigzagged. Mina, who is of Middle Eastern descent, thinks Taylor didn't rent her the house earlier because he's racist as later her white boyfriend and friends instantly got approved. He denies all this naturally, but later his racist remark about "hajis" (i.e., Muslims/Middle Eastern people) all but confirms that she's right. However, she's wrong that he's behind the hidden cameras in the house.
  • Red Herring: Possibly. Taylor keeps referencing his brother from time to time and it seems that his brother is the killer. But since we don't know the killer's identity, it's very likely the killer is a random man.
  • Sequel Hook: The killer is successful in killing the characters, and moves on to the next house, installing surveillance equipment and attacking a couple while they sleep. The fact we don't know the killer's name or motivations only fuel this trope.
  • Shower of Love: Mina and Charlie have sex in the shower, which unbeknownst to them is filmed by a hidden camera.
  • The Un-Reveal: The killer's identity is never revealed.
  • Working-Class People Are Morons: The guy running the rental, Taylor (who is the owner's brother), is a Lower-Class Lout who is more or less stated to be racist and has no social graces.