Movie reviews: 'The Rental,' 'Unhinged'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Nov 02 2020 12:10 PM

Last October 30 and 31, Cinema One hosted free drive-in screenings of “The Rental” (Friday) and “Unhinged” (Saturday). Both outdoor screenings were held at the Vertis North in Quezon City. Screening times were at 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.


Directed by Dave Franco
Written by Dave Franco and Joe Swanberg

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Charlie (Dan Stevens) and his wife Michelle (Alison Brie) went out on a trip with his brother Josh (Jeremy Allen White) and his girlfriend Mina (Shiela Vand) to a seaside rest house they found and booked online. On the first night, drugged out Charlie and Mina made out in the shower while their partners were asleep. In the morning, Mina saw a spy camera installed in one of the holes in the shower head and told Chris about it. Should they report the presence of the hidden camera to the police at the risk of exposing their unfortunate affair? 

This film could have done to warn people about the risks posed by booking AirBnb or other online rental homes for their vacation plans. There had been news about shady tricks of landlords spying on the activities of their guests, and this film just took that premise and brought it into overdrive. Actor Dave Franco took the reins behind the scenes in this one as co-writer and director (his feature film debut). The film had a rough, unpolished look, betraying the training wheels of its creator. 

Viewers who were expecting a chilling horror film will be disappointed. There was hardly any scares for the first two acts, which felt like a sleazy reality TV dating show that turned sour. The characters were unlikable and corrupt, played amateurishly by the actors, even Stevens. There was a random racist accusation unnaturally thrown in that led nowhere. The events were lamely contrived with the "horror" twist that came out from left field in the third act. It may not be exactly what you expected, but it has all been done before.


Directed by Derrick Borte
Written by Carl Ellsworth

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One morning, single mom Rachel Flynn (Caren Pistorius) was driving her 15-year-old son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) to school. At one intersection, the pickup in front of them did not move right away after the light turned green, so the annoyed Rachel honked her horn repeatedly. The driver Tom Cooper (Russell Crowe) drove his truck alongside Rachel's car to apologize for his delay, but requested Rachel to apologize back for honking at him. Their encounter took a very ugly turn when Rachel refused to do so.

Russell Crowe was made to put on a lot of pounds and belly fat for this role. This look of his made him look a lot like John Goodman in many scenes, which can be a humorous distraction despite the violence he is capable of. Crowe's Tom Cooper was an over-the-top crazy killer here, and this was established from the very first scene. He was only in a single-mode through out the film -- angry and angrier. Pistorius did what she can with her role as highly irritable Rachel, who fortunately had driving skills to match her annoyingly stupid decisions. 

This was a very disturbing film about road rage that went beyond the usual roadside outburst. Rachel's abrasive mood unfortunately clashed with a psychotic man in a worse mood, escalating what should have been a minor traffic altercation into a city-wide car chase. To make things more alarming, the rampaging Cooper also vented his anger on Rachel's family and friends as collateral victims. Director Derrick Borte made things quite frenetic, heart-pounding and unbearable. Pretty B-movie stuff here, but that was all they aimed for.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."