Review: Vacation horror thriller 'The Rental' worth a stay

Two couples rent an Airbnb that may be too good to be true in Dave Franco's efficient directorial debut

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Two couples head off for a weekend of relaxation in an oceanside Airbnb in "The Rental," a tight, condensed horror thriller that lets its human drama thicken the air before its third act scares arrive. 

Charlie (Dan Stevens, recently seen hamming it up in "Eurovision Song Contest") and Mina (Sheila Vand) are two co-workers celebrating closing a big deal. Along with their significant others — Charlie's wife Michelle (Alison Brie) and Mina's boyfriend Josh (Jeremy Allen White), who is also Charlie's brother — they rent a stunning cliff-front home for a last-minute two-night getaway.

Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand and Jeremy Allen White in "The Rental."

At first, all is well, and the views are outstanding. But the curt property manager (Toby Huss) gives the group pause, and Mina suspects him of thinly veiled racism. 

Meanwhile, a drug-fueled night leads to a late-night hot tub tryst between the two co-workers that they try to bury the following morning. And things get creepy when Mina sees what she thinks is a tiny camera embedded in one of the shower heads. 

Dave Franco, making his directorial debut, keeps things neat and tidy, and the screenplay (by Franco and Detroit-born Joe Swanberg) doesn't dole out any more information than is needed. There's enough doubt and domestic drama between the four characters to sustain an air of tension, which is only heightened when the slasher scares eventually take hold. 

At just 88 minutes, "The Rental" is an efficient, satisfying thriller with a palpable sense of dread. It might not make you skip your next weekend trip, but it will make you think twice about where you decide to stay.

'The Rental'


Rated R: for violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexuality

Running time: 88 minutes