Some of the best horror movies are like home invasions, with the horror as the invader and some other genre playing the part of the home. Think you’re watching the gentle story of a lonely widower holding fake auditions to find a new wife? Think again, because out come the needles and piano wire. Horror is definitely an interruption in The Rental, the first feature written and directed by Dave Franco. (Yes, that Dave Franco.) Though there are a few telltale signs of something menacing afoot—an ominously locked door, a couple voyeuristic POV shots of the Jason Voorhees variety—much of the first half of the film plays like a straight drama, establishing the conflicts simmering between two couples on a weekend getaway. This setup is so credible, in fact, that it’s doubly disappointing when the thriller elements do finally materialize and then promptly fail to thrill; it’s as if someone snatched the remote and changed the channel to a half-assed slasher starring the same characters.
If Jaws made audiences afraid to go to the beach, The Rental seems designed to ruin a different source of summer fun: the group vacation. The eponymous property is a spacious house overlooking the ocean. It’s the perfect spot for a couple days of partying, agree partners Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’s Sheila Vand), who ogle the listing, talking each other into paying the high price to book. It should be clarified that Charlie and Mina are professional partners, not romantic ones—they run a startup, though the movie is amusingly disinterested in the details of their business. Franco counts on us confusing the two for lovers; their chemistry is the first issue of many bubbling beneath the film’s surface. Mina is actually dating Charlie’s brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White), a sweet but quick-tempered ex-frat boy whose career as a Lyft driver earns him lots of condescension from his older, more successful sibling. Charlie, meanwhile, is married to Michelle (Alison Brie, Franco’s own spouse), who doesn’t feel threatened by her husband’s close relationship to his coworker, though maybe she should be.
Franco co-wrote The Rental with mumblecore pioneer Joe Swanberg, and for a while, it works well as a relationship study in the vein of the latter’s Drinking Buddies, complete with a focus on inconvenient attraction among thirtysomethings. On top of the charged intimacy of the group dynamic, the film piles on tensions of race and class. When the four reach the house, there’s a prickly exchange between the owner’s brother (character actor Toby Huss) and Mina, whose application was denied, presumably because of her Middle Eastern last name. She’s guilty of her own assumptions: “You own this place?” she incredulously asks, the man’s accent and working-class vibe not fitting her mental image of someone with money. Franco also gets some knowing laughs from how vacation priorities can shift out of sync; as in Midsommar, several scenes are devoted to the divisive question of when to do the drugs. (Within a strong cast, Brie most successfully navigates the transition from mundane irritations like having to get high alone to life-altering danger.)
This is mostly prelude, however. Eventually, The Rental plummets into a worst-case scenario of predatory surveillance, one that intersects with the secrets destructively kept among the characters. But after all the care put into developing these relationships, the scares almost feel like an afterthought, as though the movie remembered last minute what genre it was supposed to be occupying and hastily improvised a violent climax. As a filmmaker, Franco thankfully possesses none of the pompous overreach of his older brother; The Rental runs a brisk, unpretentious 88 minutes, and is cleanly, sleekly directed. But there’s an indifference to what passes for its set pieces: Beyond one effectively jarring shot of someone racing full speed at a crashed car, the horror is staged as perfunctorily as it’s introduced. Curiously, the life-and-death material turns out to be much less suspenseful than the possibility of infidelity that looms over the first half’s social misadventure.
To be fair, The Rental would probably be a little creepier any other summer, when more viewers might be planning trips of their own—though seeing friends in close contact, touching the surfaces of another person’s home, does inspire some accidental pinpricks of anxiety, the same way crowded beaches presently look scary even without a shark prowling their waters. Much more so than the year’s other Airbnb horror movie, the wan Kevin Bacon chiller You Should Have Left, The Rental at least attempts to exploit the unsettling implications of our new travel normal—to touch upon the discomfort renters arguably should feel occupying a home that isn’t their own. How much can a few star ratings really tell you about the people opening their doors? And isn’t there something a little unnerving about their freedom to come and go as they please, their access to you just the turn of a key away? Franco grazes these fears, but his movie still feels like an exquisite corpse of genre miscalculation, one that develops no meaningful relationship between the story it seems to be telling and the harsh but rather arbitrary way it’s resolved. In other words, don’t trust the listing: This is half a horror movie at best, and that’s not its better half.
Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact
Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie.
Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo.
But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way.
The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake.
The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.
Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either.
Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price.
Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity.
Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well.
Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Liu Yifei made no outright apology.
Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas.
5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!
American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations.
Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.
Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming.
Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes
Year of release: 2019
1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre.
Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.
- Rise of Empires: Ottoman
Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes
Year of release: 2020
Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.
This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride.
- Wild Wild Country
Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes
Year of release: 2018
The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!
- Lenox Hill
Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes
Year of release: 2020
For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.
Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.
This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.
Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes
Year of release: 2016
The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.
The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!
Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!
The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses
When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.
What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?
As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.
- It saves your money
Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.
- It allows you to try several games
Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.
- It will make future gambling more profitable
Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.
Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.
We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.