Rent-A-Pal is a 2020 thriller film written, produced, and directed by Jon Stevenson (Fistful of Staples, The Release, Stiffs, and Hoax) in his directorial debut. It was produced by Raphael Margules (Contracted 1/2, Dementia 1/2, Uncaged, The Vigil, Becky, and Pledge). It had a limited theatrical run and it grossed $31,053 at the box office.
David Brower (played by: Brian Landis Folkins from Spotless, Suburban, The Creep Behind the Camera, and Hoax) is a middle-aged bachelor in 1990 who is looking for a relationship. He is lonely after taking full responsibility of taking care of his irritable dementia-ridden mother Lucille (played by: Kathleen Brady from Breaking Bad). He started using Video Rendezvous, a video dating service for the last six months but he hasn’t had any luck on there yet. He goes there for an update on his status with the receptionist (played by: Adrian Egolf from Quarters and Red Dot) and he finds a random video called “Rent-A-Pal” at the office. He watches the mysterious Andy (played by: Wil Wheaton from Stand by Me, Star Trek, Toy Soldiers, and The Curse) on the video and he interacts with the stranger while viewing it.
They start to form a bond and they become friends after awhile. David finally gets a match on Video Rendezvous with a woman named Lisa (played by: Amy Rutledge from Eyes of the Dead, Neighbor, Scalp, and The Death of April) after almost missing out on her from before. They actually click and David is starting to feel happy in his life for once. Andy gets mad when David tells him that he made plans with Lisa again. He ends up cancelling on her to talk to Andy some more. His mother Lucille goes missing and he asks Lisa for help to find her. Their connection grows stronger after that night. David is caught between a new love and a new best friend but he can’t seem to find a balance between the two plus his sick mother. Things start to fall apart for the loner. His reality starts to become a nightmare, can David keep it together and deal with all these people at the same time????
Rent-A-Pal is a slow burn and it takes awhile to get anywhere but it’s worth the wait. It has a very small cast and the script is all about character development. The build up is what really makes this one so good, the screenplay slowly creeps in for a real interesting character study. You have to be patient for Rent-A-Pal but the crazy finale rewards you for it. Brian Landis Folkins plays a loser looking for more in his life here after sacrificing everything for his mother. It kinda like a nerd version of Michael Douglas in Falling Down. This man is on the verge of snapping anytime and his grip on reality is slipping away. I’ve never seen him in anything before this but he was great in this. I was rooting for him to get everything together but once it happens, everything falls apart for the loner. Wil Wheaton steals the show in this, I’ve never seen him act like this before and I honestly didn’t think he had it in him to play a villain like this but I was wrong. You don’t really know much about this Andy character but once he comes into David’s life, everything goes wrong for him. He takes advantage of weaker people and plays a game with their life after it. It had a solid supporting cast that included Kathleen Brady, Amy Rutledge, and Adrian Egolf. This thriller burns into your mind and it takes you on an interesting ride through David’s eyes. I love the 90’s vibe it has and it takes you back to those times with it’s music and production design. This is a very impressive debut from director Jon Stevenson, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks fantastic and it gives you that 90’s feel. It has a few different audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on the disc. Both tracks sound good but this is really not the type of feature that’s going to blast through your speakers. It has some moments towards the end. All of the dialogue is very clean, the suspense is elevated, and the 90’s music has a nice boost to it. It also has English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Scream Factory! “Making ‘Rent-A-Pal” is almost an hour long. It has interviews with the cast and crew from the production. This mini documentary shows the making of this independent film from basically start to finish. It has behind the scenes footage. It shows them putting together this thriller and it’s an awesome inside look into the production. It shows them replicating that VHS and 90’s style look. It focuses on how they shot Wil Wheaton and his Andy role for it. It has a decent amount of information so if you want to learn more, I definitely recommend this bonus feature. “Hi, I’m Andy” is a little over 22 minutes. You get all the video footage from the movie and more here when it comes to the Andy character. It’s an extended look into the actual Rent-A-Pal video. This is a really cool extra. “Meet Your Matches” os almost 4 minutes. These are the extended and uncut Video Rendezvous dating videos from the feature. You get to see all these wacky women in all their original videos here. It has a :Theatrical Trailer”. It comes with a slipcover. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!