Rent-A-Pal Trailer: What Price Friendship?

Brian Landis Folkins as “David” in Jon Stevenson’s RENT-A-PAL. Courtesy of IFC Midnight.

Set in 1990, Rent-A-Pal centers around a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins) searching for an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a video dating service, he discovers a strange VHS tape called ​Rent-A-Pal.​ Hosted by the charming and charismatic Andy (Wil Wheaton), the tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship. But, Andy’s friendship comes at a cost, and David desperately struggles to afford the price of admission.

Writer/Director, Jon Stevenson, came up with the seed of the story while browsing Reddit. He came across a very strange video on the internet: an old VHS tape called, “Rent-A-Friend.” Hosted by an enigmatic yet charismatic “Sam,” Rent-A-Friend offered entertainment, advice, and most importantly, friendship, to lonely people in a pre-digital age. “Who would watch this?!” Stevenson asked himself. The answer to that question would ultimately become the story of Rent-A-Pal.

Once the three leads were cast, the filmmakers needed to solve the final piece of the puzzle: Who would play Andy? Rent-A-Pal’s version of the enigmatic yet charismatic host. Stevenson wanted a household name who was popular in the late ’80s/early ’90s, particularly someone known for being very friendly and approachable. This would help the audience, as well as David, instantly connect to the weird idea of the Rent-A-Pal tape and hopefully, become entranced by it as David does. Stevenson, Baker, and Weber tossed around a number of names but all three had one choice in mind: Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: Next Generation.)

Rent-A-Pal Opens in theaters and VOD on September 11.


Written by Matt Armitage

Once in charge of the Film Department, Matt now roams in the shadows of 25YL—like a ronin—always alert for the misuse of em-dashes and bad alt text. These days he enjoys harassing PR companies for free films and beating writers until they agree to write about said free films. Also, webmaster. I write on occasion, mostly about weird stuff nobody else cares about.

Leave a Reply

Panic washes over the characters in Host, the new Zoom based horror film on Shudder.

The Lesson Host Should Be Teaching The Film Industry Right Now

Cam Sandford being walked around the detention center on his first day

Stateless: The Evolution of the Moral Compass Character