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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Rental’ on VOD, Starring Alison Brie and Dan Stevens in An Airbnb Nightmare

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The Rental is now available to, well, rent (as well as buy) on digital platforms like YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play. The directorial debut from actor Dave Franco—who also co-wrote the script with Joe Swanberg—is not about video rentals, but about property rentals. It’s also not so much a horror movie as it is a character drama, with just a thin slice of horror served up at the end, like a delicious treat after a simple dinner at a classy restaurant. 

THE RENTAL: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: Be honest: You’ve been browsing Airbnb rentals, fantasizing about “getting away” during this pandemic, haven’t you? Well, Franco might give you a reason to hesitate, with the story of two couples whose Airbnb vacation doesn’t go at all as planned. You’ve got Michelle (Alison Brie), Michelle’s husband Charlie (Dan Stevens), Charlie’s co-worker Mina (Sheila Vand), and Mina’s boyfriend Josh (Jeremy Allen White), who also happens to be Charlie’s brother. The foursome decides to splurge on an extravagant home by the coast, just for the weekend.

Right away, Mina is mistrustful of the Airbnb host. She initially tried to book the property but was rejected, while Charlie was instantly approved. She suspects the host discriminated against her Middle Eastern name, but Charlie brushes aside her concerns. We soon learn that Charlie and Mina have something of a “special bond.” It makes Josh insecure, but Michelle’s totally cool with it… until she finds out Charlie cheated on his last two girlfriends. But when Mina discovers two hidden cameras in the two showers in the rental, she and Charlie have much bigger problems to worry about it.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: In some ways, The Rental is your typical “cabin in the woods” horror movie set-up that you’ve seen in Evil Dead, The Strangers, Friday the 13th, Cabin in the Woods, and many more films. But the vast majority of its runtime is spent more like an indie character drama, á la a Duplass Brothers film.

Performance Worth Watching: The Rental that relies heavily on its four main actors, and each of the four carry their weight. But you have to give it up for the master: Alison Brie. She’s proven herself a queen of drama as well as comedy with Netflix’s GLOW, and she does it once again in The Rental. She flips from Charlie’s calm, cool, and collected wife to a jealous breakdown in an instant, and it’s completely natural. She blisses out on ecstasy, and it’s hilarious. Franco, who is Brie’s husband in real life, is lucky to have her in the cast.

Memorable Dialogue: While Alison Brie is tripping and notices her cabin-mates calling for the dog that was staying with them, she mumbles to herself, “Oh fuck, they lost the dog.” It’s one of the film’s few humorous moments, and it perfectly sums up what it’s like to be high and selfish while your friends are in crisis mode.

Sex and Skin: While there is a steamy shower scene, it’s all very PG-13.

Our Take: Franco recently caught some criticism for saying in an interview that he and Brie had written “a smarter, more elevated version of a romantic comedy,” a philosophy he also applied to The Rental for the horror genre. That’s undoubtedly an annoying way to put it, especially for lovers of either genre, but I can’t help but see what he means when it comes to The Rental, which is a lean, understated, and genuinely good indie horror flick.

At first, I was frustrated by the slow-moving nature of the film. “Shouldn’t somebody be dead by now?” I asked myself at the hour-mark, and, it seemed to me, nothing of consequence had happened. But when the film finally pivots from relationship drama to slasher madness—and it does happen eventually—it just works. Yes, the violence at the end is more painful, brutal, and meaningful because the characters feel full and real. Yes, poor special effects and cheesy jump scares earlier on would have cheapened the emotion. And yes, the eerie and satisfying credit sequence is almost good enough to define the entire film. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that Franco would display such confidence and competence behind the camera. After all, he’s been hanging out on movie sets for over a decade now.

It helps that the actors are very good. Brie is the stand-out, but Sheila Vand does a lot with a complicated character. Jeremy Allen White, who I haven’t seen much of since his Shameless days, has that oddly compelling quality that keeps your eyes on him at all times. Stevens, who I love, has his American accent down to a science. The Rental isn’t good enough to garner awards chatter—the movie does have something to say about privacy, but it doesn’t really get around to saying it until the very end—but it’s nonetheless a polished, enjoyable watch. You just might want to shift your mindset from “horror slasher” to “Duplass Brothers” before you hit play.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Don’t give up on The Rental, because the ending does pay off. And hey, it’s only 89 minutes. Why not?

Where to watch The Rental

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Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact

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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. 

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5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!

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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. 

  1. 1994

Genre: Documentary

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.

  1. Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Genre: Drama

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. 

  1. Wild Wild Country

Genre: Documentary

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!

  1. Lenox Hill

Genre: Documentary

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.

  1. Borderline

Genre: Comedy

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!

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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