‘Rent-A-Pal’ is a psychological thriller set in 90s that follows the narrative of a lonely man named David, who starts losing his mind due to loneliness. His life revolved around a mysterious tape, and the movie creates a somewhat ambiguous air around what is happening. Things get weirder and weirder as the film progresses. Still, the filmmakers have ingeniously planted some clues for us to follow so that we can deduce the truth about David’s situation.
The Plot Explained
In his video, David (Brian Landis Folkins ) describes himself as a forty-year-old man who lives with his mother. She has dementia, and David is her only caretaker. Unfortunately, her dependency on David takes a toll on his personal life. He has zero social experiences, which means he doesn’t have any friends, and there is no possibility that he might actually have a real girlfriend.
So he decides to use a service that allows people to post their tapes. These tapes are then shown to others, and if someone likes them, they can express their interest by reaching out to their profile. It has been a while since David made a profile, but he has received no matches. Then he finds a DVD called ‘Rent-A-Pal’, and this DVD changes his life completely.
Is Andy Just A Part Of David’s Imagination?
David’s interaction with Andy (Wil Wheaton) is so strange as their conversations timely match up. Still, Andy’s reactions change with every interaction, even though he is pretty much saying the same thing over and over again. David’s TV pal is the only person he can properly talk to.
Their friendship becomes the perfect thing in David’s life. But Andy’s behavior changes after David meets Lisa (Kathleen Brady). After some time, the pre-recorded conversation becomes an actual friendship in David’s imagination. Somewhere along the way, Andy becomes a real person in David’s life who functions through his mind. David’s imagination now dictates the tapes.
At one point in the video, Andy takes a selfie with his viewer, but there’s really no picture here, as they have never met in person. Later we find their selfie in David’s room. How did that happen? That’s the point. It didn’t. David became so immersed in this fake friendship that he forgot that Andy isn’t a real person in his life. Andy is just an actor who has made this tape for lonely people who want to have a conversation with someone.
In the end, David became so invested in Andy that the tape became more important than his mother. When his mother destroys the tape, he feels like his best friend has been killed; like since the tape is hurt, Andy would also feel the pain. David has shifted into being someone so disoriented that he thinks that he no longer needs his mother, since Andy says it. And if Andy says the both of them don’t need her, he believes in him and murders her.
The Ending of ‘Rent A Pal’
After things end with Lisa, a disheartened David falls further into his self-destructive habits and self-isolation. His switch flips when he sees that his mother has destroyed the tape for her art activity. He hurts her and leaves her lying on the floor, as he rushes outside to buy yet another copy of Rent-A-Pal. When he arrives back home, he starts talking to Andy again, who ‘tells’ him that they ‘don’t need’ his mother anymore. David obeys his commands and drives his mother down the stairs to the basement.
After this incident, every television screen in the house starts showing Andy’s tape, and it is confirmed that David has completely broken down. He starts copying the lines spoken by Andy and keeps on doing so even when Lisa shows up at his house. She is petrified when she discovers what David has done to his mother.
He tries to kill Lisa too, but she succeeds in escaping after stabbing his chest with a pair of scissors. As she runs out to ask for help, David goes back to the basement where he fast forwards the tape up until the end. He bids his final goodbye to Andy. The tape ends, and David takes his very last breath.