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R BnB (2023) Review

R BnB is the latest in what has become a popular subgenre, vacation rentals from hell. From The Rental to Superhost to Holistay there are plenty of cinematic reasons to get a hotel room rather than rent someone’s house. Or better yet, stay home and avoid the problem entirely.

Opening with a shot of Mia (Bryanna McQueeney, Art of Diversion, Drifting) behind the wheel and crying, R BNB quickly shifts to Mia in the passenger’s seat as her husband Ryan (Ryon Thomas, They Don’t Cast Shadows, Premonition) pulls into his sister Jennifer’s (Gloria Mann, The Bit Player, Point Break) driveway. It’s a stop Mia is not looking forward to.

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That’s understandable as Jennifer openly says that Mia who is several years younger than the wealthy, as in just traded in a year-old Mercedes for a brand new one wealthy, Ryan only married him for his money. Ryan’s counter is that she didn’t like any of his previous wives either and that she needs to lighten up.

Once done there and after a stop on the way for a quickie on the car’s hood, they get to the rental where they’ll be celebrating their first anniversary. It is a charming looking place, run by Kylo (Alex Galick, Gunn, Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge) and Aubree (Savannah Whitten, Lillith, Impossible Monsters) and their staff Polina (Agnes Artych, Points, The Roommate) and Haden-Marie (Marco Reese Maldonado, Mutilator 2, A Killer Romance).

Writer/director Robert Mann (Trapped, The Pumpkin Karver) gets to the creepy quickly. Polina, in the process of delivering towels, stands there unnoticed, very obviously staring at Mia’s fresh from the shower ass. Unfortunatly, he also throws in flash forwards at seemingly random points in the film, which have the effect of ruining much of the film’s suspense. Yes, since R BnB is a horror film, we know things are not going to go smoothly. But we don’t need to see specifics, including major plot details.

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Not that it’s all that hard to guess what’s going on, as we see people wandering around in the middle of the night. Kylo and Aubree seem to be too pushy with their friendliness, and Kylo seems a little too attached to his crossbow. It’s no surprise when the hidden cameras are found and Aubree hits on Mia, but just in case it might be, another of R BnB’s flash forwards has already shown us what they have in mind.

The one exception to this is Jennifer, who is a whole different kind of creepy. She’s mad at Ryan for not answering her multiple calls and texts and when he does get reception and call she goes off on a rant about his not having a pre-nup and his taste in women in general. She seems more like a jealous ex than a concerned sibling. And by the time she decides to show up, it’s obvious she has an agenda of her own.

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I don’t know why Mann thought revealing much of the final act ahead of time and weakening his own ending was a good idea. It’s really too bad because he does a decent job with the action surrounding it. And while it’s easy to tell where R BnB’s plot is headed, there is at least one major detail that you probably wouldn’t guess if you weren’t shown. That does leave the twist dropped in the final minutes, but that may garner an entirely different response than the filmmakers expected.

Now, there are plenty of films that start at the end and are told in flashback, so obviously some viewers don’t care if they know how a film ends well ahead of time. If you’re one of them you’ll probably enjoy R BnB. Others may find enough individual scenes that work to make up for it. I wasn’t bored, but I wasn’t as into it as I should have been either.

R BnB is available on Digital Platforms via Mannatee Films.

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