Just when you thought the film industry was running out of original ideas, filmmaker Jon Stevenson was exploring the weird side of the Internet and stumbled onto a digitized version of an old VHS tape called, “Rent-A-Friend.” The title is self explanatory; need a buddy? Rent one! Hosted by an enigmatic yet charming Sam, Rent-A-Friend offered entertainment, advice, and most importantly, friendship, to lonely people in a pre-digital age. “Who would watch this?!” Stevenson asked himself. The answer to that question would ultimately become Rent-A-Pal.
Rent-A-Pal follows David, a bachelor in 1990 who seeks a partner through a video dating service to get him out his mundane routine of caring for his aging mother. One day he discovers a strange VHS tape called Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by the charming and charismatic Andy. The tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship. But it isn’t long before David discovers Andy’s friendship comes at a cost David may not be able to afford.
Gripping, complex and occasionally claustrophobic, Rent-A-Pal is a solid story seeped in nostalgia that’s a blast as well as a deeply engaging study in slow burn intensity.
Despite lacking the supernatural element the trailer teases (something I was looking forward to), Rent-A-Pal is an interesting take on the conventional decent into madness kind of thriller.
Wicked Rating: 7/10