MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Jon Stevenson
Starring: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Amy Rutledge
Runtime: 1 hr 48 mins
What It Is: Taking care of his mother is a full-time job for David (Folkins). Desperate for a girlfriend to end his loneliness, David takes part in a video dating service. He feels as lonely as ever as he struggles to get any matches. That is until he finds an odd VHS tape called Rent-A-Pal. On it is Andy (Wheaton) and he promises to be the best friend David so desperately needs. After a while, David starts to rely too much on his new companion and the line between reality and Andy starts to become blurred.
What We Think: While this movie is pretty predictable, it certainly is creepy and no doubt hard to watch at times as the viewer gets a front-row seat to David’s unraveling. The premise certainly draws you in and Wheaton’s performance as Andy is captivating from the get-go despite him only ever appearing on a television screen. He perfectly embodies the creepy yet charismatic man that promises eternal companionship. The rest of the cast left a little to be desired, however. Rutledge did do her part as David’s love interest, Lisa. The only problem was she wasn’t introduced until halfway through the movie. The acting may not have been enough to make the film stand out but the editing tried its best on that front. I will say, I have to give props to Stevenson for writing, directing, and editing this feature-length film even if the writing did need a little bit of work. His other two endeavors were more successful. This film certainly has an interesting premise and is set in in the ’90s gave it some brownie points (the video store scenes will make you want to go back to 1996 and visit a Blockbuster) but there just wasn’t enough here to be completely satisfied after spending nearly two hours watching this film.
Our Grade: C, This film really is a take it or leave it situation. You definitely shouldn’t go into expecting a horror (as IMDb suggests) but more of a dark character study and psychological thriller. Wheaton’s performance really does deserve recognition but one man alone cannot carry a movie—at least in this case. Maybe flip a coin and decide whether or not this movie is going to be worth your time.