The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
I remember seeing a preview for this film a while ago. Where exactly I don’t recall, but I love a suspense/horror/thriller film, so I made a mental note to add it to my ever-growing list. Upon my second viewing of the trailer, I thought, “Is this one of those trailers where they show you the entire film in the previews?” or, “Could this be one of those types you know exactly what will happen because that completely negates the suspense?” Where is the thrill in that? However, I was still interested, especially because this is Dave Franco’s directorial debut.
Dave Franco, better known as the drug dealer from 21 Jump Street, co-writes and solely directs The Rental with a maturity that we usually do not see from him in his comedic acting roles. I was impressed by his attention to certain details but felt attention slightly lacked elsewhere. Regardless, he was confident in his storytelling abilities, most notably with the underlying theme in this story that will leave you completely spooked. There are potentially some loose ends that do not get tied up, but that is exactly where he wants your mind to wander to as the credits roll. There is a deeper message with why he makes the decisions he does that could get lost on some audiences who want everything explained and tied up nicely with a bow, but it’s much more than that.
Two couples go on a weekend vacation in a secluded house: what could go wrong? It’s like these characters have never seen a horror flick before! The couples consist of co-workers and siblings; two brothers, one who is married and works with his younger brother’s girlfriend. They decide to go away on a celebratory weekend and discover that someone or something is watching them when they discover hidden cameras around the house. These cameras are not just hidden, they are extremely invasive and could potentially expose secrets of the couples. What could be scarier than someone discovering your secrets?
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The cast is made up of a handful of characters being that the plot is centered around two couples and their vacation. The acting is solid and believable because it has to be as it relies heavily on the characters to carry the narrative along. Aside from the couples, there is the creepy (and potentially racist?) man who is the brother of the owner of the house who maintains it for him, Taylor (Toby Huss). The younger brother, Josh (Jeremey Allen White), “Lip” for those fellow Shameless fans, was semi-typecast because you could have told me this character was Lip and it would have been believable. His girlfriend and older brother’s work partner Mina (Sheila Vand) is a fearless and bold woman who confronts things that stir the pot and sends the narrative into overdrive. The older brother, Charlie (Dan Stevens), and his wife Michelle (Alison Brie) seem like a typical happy couple, but things get complicated quickly for these two. There is not much complexity with the character development, but there does not need to be, as it is clear cut who these characters are and where they fit into the narrative.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
"...You will be thinking about this long after the film ends..."
There is nothing particularly ground-breaking, but the simplicity works for this story. The setting is a beautiful location; a huge house on a shoreline of a beach that will make you jealous until you realize the danger the characters face. There is a certain scene in a shower that has a really cool effect, otherwise there was nothing out of the ordinary for this genre.
The Rental (2020) | VOD
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Silence can be just as important and strategic as music in film, and especially in the genre of suspenseful. This is done carefully here, which is important given the nature of the story. I may recall one semi-cheap jump scare, but nothing to be annoyed at. The characters provide a couple jump scares as they tease one another, but the music and score are serviceable and hit the right tones otherwise.
The final shot of this film sent chills down my spine. As the credits rolled I had a million thoughts racing through my head about life, fears, and how our focus on what we fear or where our anxieties lie is distracted by what we should actually be afraid of in reality. Does privacy really exist in our world at all? You will be thinking about this long after the film ends, and maybe even looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is there.