Written by Elliot Lines
Rent-A-Pal has an almost direct reference to life today. Set in the 90's it is a story one lonely man, David (Brian Landis Folkins), on his journey to find a release from loneliness. This comes in the form of a video dating service, where he is not having much luck. Through all his searching what he does find is companionship in the form of another video, Rent-A-Pal. Andy (Wil Wheaton) is the man in the screen, the companion David is looking for, but everything is not what it seems.
Taking a little while to get onto it's feet, the set up is a slow burn, but with this choice you get a sense of the life that David leads, the loneliness he suffers from. He lives in the basement of his mothers, but is also her full time carer, there is no escape, any kind of release is a bonus for this man. This is where Andy comes in. After the little success with dating, the Rent-A-Pal video is the only release. Wheaton's portrayal of this on-screen friendship is chilling from the start. Although it may seem harmless at first there is clearly something sinister behind the creation of this video. Now the events that transpire may be how this video is taken by the viewer, but its feels like there is more at play here.
There are clever ways in which this film adds small details that push David to breaking point. Being the carer of his mother, who suffers from Dementia, and through no fault of her own cannot remember his name at times. But you can see the strain this relationship has on him. Then there is the addition of a "girlfriend", after the first date he is ecstatic by the outcome, he may of found someone who gets him, will accept him. But it seems the relationship David has built with Andy is too strong, too much for him to handle. All these small relationship additions allow Folkins to throw himself into this role, showcasing the downturn of this harmless and caring character, twisted by an outside source.
Rent-A-Pal take a little while to get going, but this is a dive into the way in which people get caught up in social situations, in a bad way. Just like in todays world, many people get caught in the social media web and struggle to find a way out, it becomes their life and Rent-A-Pal is a commentary to that. The clever writing and interesting plot elevate this story out of the screen, bringing a sinister overtone to the film as a whole.