Dave Franco will be the first to say he’s doing pretty well in quarantine.
“We’re mainly feeling lucky that we like our home and we like each other,” Franco told Insider over the phone last week.
The “we” he’s referring to is he and his wife, actress Alison Brie. The two have been together since meeting eight years ago in a night that ended with them both taking Molly (more on that later).
Along with marital bliss, Franco is happy to get his first feature directing effort out into the world, the horror movie “The Rental” (in select drive-ins and On Demand beginning Friday). He doesn’t star in it, but Brie (“GLOW”) does along with Dan Stevens (“Eurovision Song Contest,” “Beauty and the Beast”), and a creepy masked man tormenting them with a hammer.
So the Franco/Brie household is a frenetic place at the moment with the buzz surrounding their new movie. There are lots of phone calls to get last-minute arrangements ironed out, press interviews, and even the occasional call for Franco from Vanilla Ice.
Taking the director plunge
Directing is not a new interest for the 35-year-old actor. Franco admits he’s been making shorts, mainly for FunnyOrDie.com, for a decade. He had always been nervous to take the leap to directing a feature film but it suddenly became obvious after writing “The Rental” with fellow filmmaker Joe Swanberg (“LOL,” “Drinking Buddies,” “Win It All”).
“Once I wrote this script with Joe, I realized that I knew these characters and this story more intimately than anyone and my nerves went away,” Franco said.
The creepy movie follows two brothers (Dan Stevens and Jeremy Allen White) and their significant others (Alison Brie and Sheila Vand) who stay at an Airbnb for the weekend. As the story evolves, we begin to see flaws in many of the characters and signs of racism from the man who oversees the property (played perfectly by longtime character actor Toby Huss).
But when the houseguests realize that cameras are planted around the rental, it leads to a bloody ending as a mystery man takes out the main characters.
As Insider’s Libby Torres wrote in her review of the movie, “the film’s power comes from how expertly it combines quotidian anxieties… with a tense game of cat and mouse.”
Filmmaker Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), who Franco said he went after to direct the movie before finally taking it on himself (Durkin is an executive producer on “The Rental”), said it was the meshing of genres in the story that grabbed him.
“It sets up this character drama but is interrupted by a slasher film, so I loved that it was doing something different but still delivers what it promises,” Durkin told Insider.
Franco said he felt like the right person to direct the story because this is a topic he thinks about all the time.
“I was inspired by my own paranoia about home sharing and thinking about how the country is divided as it’s ever been, no one trusts each other, yet we trust staying at the home of a stranger simply because of some five-star review,” Franco said, noting that he even stayed at an Airbnb while shooting the movie, and was completely filled with anxiety as the place was called “The Old Rustic Cabin.”
“My paranoia has reached its peak since filming this,” Franco said with a laugh. “Every time I stay in a rental home now I’m not thinking are there cameras here but where are they?” Continue Reading