By Clark Collis
July 24, 2020 at 04:51 PM EDT
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The nerve-shredding and Must List-approved horror thriller The Rental stars Legion's Dan Stevens and Shameless' Jeremy Allen White as brothers who rent a large cliffside house for a weekend away with their partners, respectively portrayed by Alison Brie and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night star Sheila Vand. The getaway starts to go downhill immediately when the house's caretaker (Toby Huss) turns out to be more than merely strange, and the situation free-falls into paranoia, terror, and violence after Vand's character discovers a tiny camera hidden in a shower head.

The Rental is the directorial debut of actor Dave Franco. The Disaster Artist star co-wrote the movie with filmmaker Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies), whose own bona fides include appearing in 2011's still wildly underappreciated You're Next. "I acted in Swanberg's Netflix show Easy," says Franco, who is married to Brie. "We were excited to create characters that were well-rounded and relatable, so that when things inevitably start to go crazy, the audience is actually invested in whether or not these people live or die."

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Franco shot the film in Brandon, Ore. "The vibe of the area was perfect," he says. "There's so much natural beauty that would draw people to vacation there, but at the same time there's something really ominous about the jagged coastline and the fog and the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere."

The Rental was inspired by horror movies both old and new. "I was heavily influenced by some of the classics, like The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Halloween," Franco says. "And of the newer genre films, I was inspired by Martha Marcy May Marlene, Hereditary, Blue Ruin, and Goodnight Mommy. This younger group of filmmakers is approaching the genre in a really smart, elevated way. Their films feel nuanced and atmospheric, and they really take their time to creep up on you, as opposed to a lot of horror films which prioritize cheap jump-scares above everything else"

Franco's movie was also inspired by his own paranoia about house-renting apps — a dread which making the film did little to assuage. "The whole concept of home-sharing is very bizarre when you take a step back and look at it — strangers renting their home to other strangers," he says. "At this point, when I stay in a rental home it's not about whether or not there are cameras in the house. It's about whether or not I will find them."

The Rental is currently playing at select drive-ins and theaters and is available on demand.

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