Sommerleigh Pollonais – Senior Writer
WHEEEEATTTONNNNN! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
That was a Big Bang Theory (TBBT) reference for the uninitiated out there. It was the episode where Will Wheaton, better known as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, tricks Sheldon into letting him win a card tournament. Those who grew up watching young Will on TNG probably remember him as being the awkward know-it-all pain in the butt of one Capt. Picard. But if you’re a fan of TBBT, you’ll know Will has a dark side, or at the very least, is capable of acting like he has one.
Which brings us to Rent-a-Pal. Set in the 1990s, we follow a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins) who while using a video dating service discovers a strange VHS tape called (you guessed it) Rent-a-Pal. Hosted by the fun and charismatic Andy (Will Wheaton), David forms an unlikely friendship with Andy, but it’s one that comes at a deadly cost.
While the story here would fit well in the modern day era, I think it was a smart decision to place it squarely in the 90s. The retro vibes somehow added to the tones of loneliness and melancholy David suffers through sitting in his basement apartment everyday with nothing else to do but take care of his ailing and forgetful mother. Actor Brian Folkins does an amazing job of keeping your attention, as we may even see a little bit of ourselves or someone we know in David, and you’ll find yourself rooting for him to find love. Which brings us to Andy, played with sadistic glee by Wheaton. The VHS-styled visuals combined with his acting instantly makes you feel uneasy, and the director does a great job of building a sense of dread, while also making you wonder is this real or is it all in David’s head.
Now this is a small budget affair, and sadly not the kind of thriller I would recommend to any and every one. You’ll either find it engaging or, if you prefer your horror with more blood, gore and boobs, utterly boring. But for those of you who enjoy films that rely heavily on the actors to carry the thrills and tension, and who don’t mind something a bit out of left field (like say Creep?), then swipe that credit card, dust off your old VHS Player and pop in Rent-A-Pal.
Just remember to be kind and rewind.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!