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drama, psychological thriller / USA / 2020 / 1h 48min

# fear and terror / drama / loneliness / desperation / depression / VHS / basement / violence / friendship / Polish premiere



You meet your best friends in the basement


The 90s. David is a nice and caring guy. In fact, he is really a catch: he cleans up, cooks dinner and in his free time he willingly talks about music and cinema. Plus, he has a really big heart. Unfortunately, fate wasn’t so kind to him. His father died several years ago, leaving him with his mother who suffers from dementia. Looking after a sick woman completely consumes him, devouring his entire private life. The man, looking for a bit of warmth and interest, regularly registers for a dating service. Fate, however, also mocks him there. The lonely and sad guy has no choice but to lock himself in the basement alone with the video player and his little friend… But Andy is not entirely real. He’s a smiling actor from a randomly found recording. The brilliantly edited film that gives the impression of an interactive conversation with the viewer. Desperate David is getting deeper and deeper into his relationship with the directed friend. At one point, the relationship gets out of hand and the guy smiling from the screen begins to increasingly influence David’s real life.

“Rent-a-pal” is a piece of a decent psychological thriller. Jon Stevenson, who is behind the camera, offers us a simple but very poignant story about depressing loneliness, a sense of hopelessness and a desperate search for warmth and attention. David’s tragedy is perfectly complemented by slow pace, carefully built tension, and an unclear character of the likeable Andy. The director efficiently manages the contents of the VHS cassette, keeping us in constant uncertainty somewhere between a demonic presence and the dreams of a desperate mind. Stevenson has no mercy on us. He locks us in an emotional basement to slam the door on us.


Age restriction: 16+


director: Jon Stevenson
screenwriter: Jon Stevenson
cast: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Amy Rutledge, Kathleen Brady and others
director of photography: Scott Park
editor: Jon Stevenson
music: Jimmy Weber
language: English
subtitles: Polish