Now playing in select theaters and on video on demand (digital and cable) is the creepy drama film, Rent-A-Pal.
The film stars Brian Landis Folkins (Hoax), Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Kathleen Brady (Breaking Bad), Amy Rutledge (Neighbor).
Brian Landis Folkins stars as David, a 40 year old single man who lives in his mother’s basement. His mother has dementia and he lives with her because she needs care 24/7.
David doesn’t mind caring for his mother. In fact, he enjoys being her caretaker. Sadly, she has no recollection of who he is. She thinks he’s his late father, and she sometimes lashes out at him because of it.
David doesn’t get out much since he’s with his mother at home all the time. Occasionally he can get out for an hour or two, but only if he drops her off at a senior center.
Hoping to find love, David uses a video dating service. The film is dated back in the early 90’s, so there is no internet dating or dating apps. Instead the service, Romantic Rendezvous, uses VHS tapes to match up possible love connections.
During one of his visits to update his video profile, David finds a video in their bargain bin called “Rent-A-Pal.” Out of curiosity, and loneliness, David purchases the tape.
Once at home, David posts the VHS tape into his VCR. On the tape is a young man (Wheaton) named Andy, seated in a chair as he talks to the viewer in a calm, friendly voice.
The way Andy talks on the tape is as if he’s having a legitimate conversation with the viewer (such as David). He asks questions, waits for responses, and replies with some kind of a positive thought.
Initially David thinks the interactions with the tape is simply weird, as would would most people. But out of sheer loneliness and desperation to have someone other than his mom in his life, David falls into a vicious cycle of watching the tape and getting more and more convinced that Andy is a real person, and David’s friend. Eventually the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred for David.
At one point David does meet a lovely young lady, and it seems like things are turning around for him. That is until Andy interferes with David’s life, and causes strain on his new found happiness.
Will David eventually come to his senses and realize that Andy is just a person on a video tape, or will he let Andy totally control his life and happiness? To find out you need to watch Rent-A-Pal. Look for it playing at select theaters nation wide, as well as VOD.
This movie really makes you feel for David. His character seems genuine. Having known someone who was a caretaker for his mother for many years, I know how incredibly lonely that kind of life can be. For that reason I found the character of David to be very believable.
Wheaton’s character Andy is a bit over the top. He’s like a overly exaggerated Mr. Rogers.
I honestly would never think of cast Wheaton in such a deranged role, but he pulls it off beautifully.
I also like the nod to the 90’s, long before Match.com and Tinder. It’s hard to even remember watching VHS tapes and having to use all those buttons on the VCR to fast forward and rewind to get to the part of the tape you would like to view. Technology has come a long way.
This film is very slow. It’s not that it’s not interesting, but it does seem to drag a lot. I guess you can say it’s a “slow burn.” Pretty much all of the action occurs in the last five minutes of the film.
Some might categorize this film as a “horror” film, but I didn’t see it that way. I think it’s more of a creepy drama, or a suspenseful drama.
Overall I liked the film. It’s very original, unlike a lot of movies today which as just different versions of stories that have already played out on film. Kudos to the film’s writers for it’s originality.
Below is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.
*I received a free screener link in order to view this film. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.