Director: Jon Stevenson
Writer: Jon Stevenson (Screenplay)
Starring: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Amy Rutledge, Kathleen Brady, Adrian Egolf, Josh Staab
Plot: Set in 1990, a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins) searches for an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a video dating service, he discovers a strange VHS tape called Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by the charming and charismatic Andy (Wil Wheaton), the tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship. But, Andy’s friendship comes at a cost, and David desperately struggles to afford the price of admission.
Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: Rent-A-Pal starts as we meet David (Folkins) who has been looking for love through the VHS dating style, while he cares for his elderly mother Lucille (Brady), David isn’t have too much lucky on the dating front, until he decides to film a new tape, which will see him discover another tape, Rent-A-Pal.
The Rent-A-Pal VHS is presented by Andy (Wheaton) who offers the viewer a conversation, one that David gets wrapped up in watching, having the conversation on repeat, giving him the interaction he doesn’t have in everyday life, becoming obsessed with the tape.
Thoughts on Rent-A-Pal
Characters – David is a lonely 40-year-old man that has been caring for his elderly mother for years, not giving him a chance to meet people in everyday life, trying his hand at the VHS dating system, when he gets a match he wants to enjoy the potential, but he has become obsessed with a friendship tape, which is slowly consuming his life. Andy is the charismatic host of Rent-A-Pal that offers friendship to the viewers, he has become a big part of David’s life, where he does know every conversation that is coming, only he seems to be getting inside David’s head with what he is talking about. Lisa is the carer that does show an interest in David, she could give him the life he desires now, she knows how to care for David’s mother in a way he doesn’t know. Lucile is David’s mother that has been suffering from dementia, forcing David to care for her, while never remember the tragic fate of her husband.
Performances – Brian Landis Folkins is great in the leading role, filled with he creepiness of being alone, being caught up in wanting to escape and being easily consumed. Wil Wheaton is a character you will want to keep watching, which is why he has such a spell over David. Amy Rutledge in the supporting role works well, showing the light that could come into David’s life.
Story – The story follows a lonely 40-year-old man that is trying to find something in the world through VHS dating, only for him to get caught up in a spiral of consumption when he watches a Rent-A-Pal VHS, giving him a chat, that he believes is real, taking over his life. The story is set in the 1990s which shows how before the modern social media we take for granted, people could find themselves lost from connection in the world, a place where they could become consumed by something empty in their lives. We see how the mindset can slowly change, how people can almost make up the story we want to hear, over what we need to see.
Horror – The horror comes from seeing just how obsessed David does become with the video, he becomes disturbing and uneasy as the story unfolds.
Settings – The film uses the settings to show how David has found himself caught up in the world where he can’t get out to see more of the world, with isolation taking over.
Scene of the Movie – David becoming friends with Andy.
Final Thoughts – Rent-A-Pal is a disturbing film that will leave you feeling uneasy throughout.
Rent A PAL will be available on Digital Download from 16th November