By James Davidson
“Rent-A-Pal” is a horror/thriller that takes viewers on a time trip to the VHS dating times of 1990. David (played by Brian Landis Folkins) is a lonely, middle aged bachelor who is taking care/living with his elderly mother who is suffering from dementia. Since David is unable to leave his mother often to enter the dating scene, he resorts to subscribing to a VHS dating service in order to meet women. While visiting the dating service, David discovers a video in the bargain bin entitled “Rent-A-Pal, intrigued, David purchases the tape. David begins watching the tape, which features a strange middle aged man named Andy (Wil Wheaton) who claims to want to be the watchers friend. David quickly becomes obsessed with his new found friend and the video begins to take over David’s life, even after he matches with a woman through the dating service.
I was intrigued by this movie because the premise sounded interesting to me, and I have a slight weakness for anything that features Wil Wheaton. I wasn’t expecting too much from this film, it didn’t feature any big name actors other than Wheaton, and I thought it might be a bit cheesy. I was pleasantly surprised with the result of this movie however.
I was extremely surprised with the acting performances in this movie. I was concerned about the quality of the acting since this wasn’t a big budget film and I hadn’t heard of most of the actors in it. However, led by Wil Wheaton’s incredible performance, the cast delivers a convincing, creepy performance. Wheaton’s performance stands out from the rest. I was impressed with his ability to portray a creepy, unsettling character without actually interacting with any of the other characters. Using mostly pre recorded responses and dialogue, Wheaton still manages to portray a powerful villain with a little help from some creative editing. Brian Landis Folkins performance is equally as impressive. He portrays the perfect nondescript protagonist who slowly slips into psychosis.
While I enjoyed the story immensely, it did have a few drawbacks. I thought that the premise for this movie was incredibly original and it held my attention throughout the entire film and kept me guessing until the ending. Unfortunately, the ending was a bit predictable and cheesy. Until the end I couldn’t have told you what was going to happen. However after a certain point in the film, I could tell you exactly what was going to happen almost down to the dialogue. This doesn’t take away from the experience that this movie provides too much though. Some of the sets and costumes are a bit cheesy as well, but I think that’s due to the movie being set in 1990.
This movie is Unrated, and some nudity and some sexual situations along with some gore and a lot of profanity means that you will probably want to watch this movie without the children in the room.
“Rent-A-Pal” is an original, creepy thriller that is highlighted with some incredible acting performances and a strong, if not a bit cheesy story. I enjoyed watching this film and would watch it again for sure. I would recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of independent thriller/horror films and is looking for something a little bit different. It earns 3 out of 5 stars