Indie Gems: Rent-A-Pal

In 1990, David (Brian Landis Folkins) is a 40 something living with his mother, Lucille (Kathleen Brady) who suffers from dementia. She needs constant care, so he can't work. He stays with her all day and subscribes to a VHS dating service where he watches tapes, and calls in to try to get matched. One day when he re-records his own tape, he stumbles upon a VHS called "Rent-A-Pal." A pre-recorded chat with Andy (Wil Wheaton) then David slowly begins to obsess over.

On paper, I probably wouldn't have bothered with this but I saw a trailer on another movie I had rented and I immediately took notice of how unsettling it looked. And it succeeds at that. I feel like the market for 80's nostalgia is very oversaturated at this point so I liked that this film leaned heavily into the 90's. 

David does lean into incel territory but his position over all is very unfortunate so it makes sense that he's exactly the type of person the Rent-A-Pal video is marketed towards. I expected the film to go a little further with this concept, and that's the biggest flaw. There's a lot of build, and then the climax is over very quickly. 

Folkins is very convincing in the lead role but it's Brady who I thought was wonderful. I thought she played someone suffering from dementia very convincingly and she has a lot of rough scenes she's required to do. I was the most impressed with her.

While this might not be a perfect film, if you liked semi-horror films such as Creep or May, this one might be for you too.

Watched on: DVD Netflix

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I need Andy!" - David (Brian Landis Folkins)


  1. This was better than expected going into it. Creepy and (as you mention) a bit unsettling.

  2. I might see this as I heard the film is kind of a comeback role for Wil Wheaton who definitely shows his creepy side for the role he plays.

    1. He's really good for the limited things he gets to do.


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