‘The Rental’: Dave Franco Says This Scene Depicts His Childhood Relationship with James Franco

The Rental is Dave Franco’s directorial debut. The horror movie tells the story of four friends looking to escape their busy lives on a weekend getaway. But things quickly turn sour when they realize they can’t trust the person they’re renting from — or themselves. Though the movie isn’t autobiographical in any sense, there is one scene Franco says depicts his relationship with his older brother, James Franco, when they were kids. 

[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the 2020 film The Rental.]

Brothers James Franco and Dave Franco
James Franco and Dave Franco | David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Dave Franco goes against classic horror movie tropes in ‘The Rental’ 

Franco is known for his roles in comedies like 21 Jump Street and Neighbors. That’s why many fans were shocked to see his name tied to a horror movie like The Rental. His purpose in doing the film was to turn classic horror tropes on their heads.

As soon as the characters in the movie arrive at their rental home, they’re seen parking their cars and connecting to WiFi. This moment demonstrates their access to the help they’ll need later on — something uncommonly found in horror movies. 

Another horror movie trope Franco goes against is having a “final girl.” Or, in the case of The Rental, any “final” people at all. None of the four main characters survive the story, but there’s a good reason for that. 

“I think the main four died in every draft of the script,” Franco admitted to the Los Angeles Times. “That was partially because we wanted the killer to have a clean getaway so he could continue to go about his routine undetected.”

One vacationer did make it out of the story, but he had four legs. Franco spared Reggie the dog’s life to “give the audience a little bit of a win.” According to Franco, people tend to care more about animals than they do humans. “I think it’s because they are these innocent creatures that don’t deserve harm,” he admitted. 

A scene in ‘The Rental’ is about Dave Franco and James Franco’s relationship 

Jeremy Allen White (Shameless) and Dan Stevens (Legion) play brothers Josh and Charlie, respectively, in The Rental. From the beginning, it’s clear Josh (White) carries a lot of self-doubts.

Early on, he questions how much his girlfriend, Mina (Shelia Vand), loves him. Mina happens to be in business — and very flirty — with Charlie (Stevens). Despite Charlie being married to Michelle (Alison Brie), Josh senses there’s something between Mina and his brother. 

Josh also spends a lot of his energy trying to impress Charlie — a notion that carries some truth to it. During an interview with Popcorn with Peter Travers, Franco talked about the scene where Josh demonstrates how badly he wants his older brother’s approval. 

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“[He’s] kind of shy about it and doesn’t really know how much he wants [his brother’s approval] but feels like he needs it, and there’s all of these conflicting things” Franco explained. “I think that’s how me and my brother used to be.” 

Now, Dave feels like James views him as more of an equal. “[He] doesn’t treat me as baby brother anymore,” he continued. Still, Franco admits there is “some truth” in the opening scene of The Rental

Stream The Rental on Showtime.