‘The Rental’: Who Is the Killer in Dave Franco’s Directorial Debut?

Many people know Dave Franco for 21 Jump StreetNeighbors, and Now You See Me. But in 2020, the actor stepped behind the camera to direct the horror movie The Rental. For those who have seen the film, the ending is quite ambiguous. Franco explains who the killer is in his directorial debut. 

[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for Dave Franco’s horror movie The Rental.]

Dave Franco, director of the horror film 'The Rental'
Dave Franco | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

What is Dave Franco’s movie ‘The Rental’ about? 

The Rental was released in July 2020 at select drive-ins, movie theaters, and through video on demand. The indie film stars Franco’s wife Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White from Shameless, and Shelia Vand. Franco wrote The Rental with Joe Swanberg (V/H/S).

In the movie, two couples book a weekend away an oceanside villa in the hopes of escaping their problems and relaxing for a while. But things turn sour when they discover evidence that their creepy host might be spying on them. What should have been a celebratory weekend away quickly turns sinister as the four friends start to uncover their deepest, darkest secrets. 

No one makes it out alive in ‘The Rental’ 

One of Franco’s goals in directing this horror film was to turn some of the genre’s tropes on their heads. By not having anyone survive, sans Reggie, the dog, Franco left audiences unsettled with little to no resolve. In Franco’s opinion, most horror movie watchers expect at least one person to survive.

“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” — another thing that left many viewers unsettled having seen The Rental.

The only thing that gives viewers some solace is that Reggie is the only survivor. “We did make a point to keep the dog alive to at least give the audience a little bit of a win,” Franco said.

“There’s this strange thing where, as audience members, we sympathize more with animals than humans! I think it’s because they are these innocent creatures that don’t deserve harm.” According to Franco, Reggie’s life was spared because he was the only one who didn’t do anything wrong.

The killer in ‘The Rental’ is a previous renter 

As Franco revealed to the LA Times, the murder in his directorial debut is a previous renter of the lavish property. “I just tapped into that idea of wondering why we trust the people we’re renting to and thinking about how there must be people who stay in these rental homes and then make copies of the keys and come back at a later date to do whatever they want,” Franco explained.

“It’s just a very creepy idea that I felt was worth exploring,” he added. Franco made the killer a former renter to shock fans, who might have expected the homeowner to be the crazed killer. 


‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’: Why the Controversial Horror Film Is Getting a Reboot

Find out what other horror tropes Franco plays with in his directorial debut. Stream The Rental on Showtime.