‘Home For Rent’ Netflix Review: Cults, Parenting, & Lots Of Ghosts Make For A Tense & Scary Affair


2023 is shaping up to be quite the year for movie moms. If we focus only on the horror genre, it has been a tough and entertaining time for cinematic mothers, who come in various shapes and forms, which can be metaphorical or literal in nature. I know I say this every time a horror film featuring a mom comes around, but it bears repeating because, unintentionally or purposefully, it has become an interesting trend. In Unwelcome, Hannah John-Kamen gave birth to a baby while facing off rude Irish locals and goblins. Noémie Merlant battled postpartum depression, which involved horrific hallucinations, with Baby Ruby. Milena Smit tackled two spawns of Satan in Tin and Tina. Natalia Solián wrestled with her identity and the pressure of becoming a first-time mother in Huesera: The Bone Woman. Alyssa Sutherland literally tried to coalesce her family into one hunk of meat in Evil Dead Rise. And now Nittha Jirayungyurn is here to join these lovely ladies with Home for Rent.

Sophon Sakdaphisit’s Home for Rent, which he has co-written with Tanida Hantaweewatana, follows the married couple, Ning and Kwin, and their daughter, Ing. They live in Kwin’s bungalow-esque house. But since it’s too far from Ing’s school and the couple is struggling to make ends meet, Ning wants to rent out Kwin’s house and shift into a relatively cheap apartment. Although the condo is not in good shape, Ning opts for a fixer-upper and moves in. Meanwhile, Kwin’s house is occupied by the new tenants, Dr. Ratree and Nuch, who are a little ominous but nothing out of the ordinary. However, when Ning visits the residence to pick up some old photographs for Ing’s school project, her old neighbor, Aunty Phorn, warns her about the cult-like practices that the tenants are conducting. Things escalate when Ning and Ing are haunted by a dark spirit. After spotting a mysterious tattoo on Kwin’s chest, Ning begins to suspect that her husband has something to do with the spirit in the apartment complex and the cult in his old house.

The writing is pretty much on the wall, which is that Sophon and Tanida are commenting on the difficult art of parenting in Home for Rent. I don’t want to explicitly reveal who is dealing with what. All I will say is that one of them is suffering from a deep sense of guilt and pain due to the loss of a loved one, while the other half of this couple is dealing with the repercussions of this emotional phase. Since it is a horror movie, the aforementioned sentiments are manifesting in the form of something supernatural, thereby forcing the comparatively stable parent to seek out a solution. Like a lot of horror movies that have come before this, the need to resort to unscientific methods to either communicate with or bring back the dead is a critique of the human mind’s inability to let go of the past. This particular habit can stem from a plethora of reasons, but the one that the writers tend to focus on is the act of moving on too quickly instead of processing your trauma by sitting with your feelings or seeking therapy.

Instead of simply sympathizing with the grieving party because that is the normal and easy thing to do, Sophon and Tanida underscore the ugly consequences of an unhealthy mourning affair. I know that is probably a taboo subject, but Home for Rent doesn’t shy away from stating that your spouse isn’t obligated to share your emotional baggage, especially if it comes unannounced. In addition to that, as the name suggests, the film delves into the topic of inflation, which is the root cause of all the problems that Ning and Kwin face. Money doesn’t always solve everything, but the obstacles that the couple faces could have been overcome with some extra cash, thereby preventing them from confronting spirits, ghouls, and cults. But that’s how life is; you never know what is around the corner. You simply have to roll with the punches. That said, Sophon and Tanida’s writing isn’t totally flawless. There are a bunch of twists at the end of the second act, and they are a little too complicated. I don’t think there’s a lot of substance in those plot revelations, and they only pad the running time. Once the third act starts, it’s all smooth sailing.

I want to go out on a limb and say that Sophon Sakdaphisit is definitely a fan of the Insidious films because there are a couple of moments of traveling clairvoyance that are eerily similar to The Further. The characters enter the colorless realm, in which time moves at a different speed, and it looks like an out-of-body experience. It is a lot like the astral projection that Elise, Josh, and Dalton are capable of doing in those films. This isn’t a critique at all. I actually like it when films from different countries interpret universal concepts. Also, Home for Rent is incredibly scary. The entire first hour of the film had me screaming at the top of my voice. Niramon Ross’ cinematography and Panayu Kunvanlee’s editing had me on the edge of my bed. The stuff that they do with out-of-focus shots, reflections, shadows, and color is truly nightmare-inducing. And who gave permission to Hualampong Riddim and Vichaya Vatanasapt to craft that demented music? I am going to have a couple of sleepless nights, and it’s all because of the music and that chanting. The movie also boasts some great production design, art direction, visual effects, and special effects that’ll keep me away from anything triangular in nature.

The performances from the entire cast of Home for Rent are phenomenal. I always say that it’s tough to write roles for kids in movies that are mostly populated by adults. It’s tough to cast kids who can act in those roles. And then there’s the uphill task of directing them properly. I believe that this aspect of filmmaking gets even more difficult when it comes to horror films because they have to deal with such abstract concepts while acting like they are scared out of their minds. But Thanyaphat Mayuraleela makes it seem like it’s not a big deal, as she effortlessly showcases such a wide array of emotions. Her final scenes are astounding. Nittha Jirayungyurn is a force of nature. She conveys her character’s sense of paranoia, doubt, anger, and affection in a really relatable way. I mean, she had me conversing with the screen and giving directions to her character regarding what she had to avoid. If that’s not effective acting, I don’t know what is. Sukollawat Kanarot’s work is subtle. He presents Kwin in a very bland way. However, with every passing minute, he reveals a new facet of his character and blows you away. It’s difficult to root for him, but Kanarot does a good job of winning you over. Without giving away too much, I’ll say that Penpak Sirikul, Namfon Pakdee, and Suphithak Chatsuriyawong managed to make their mark despite their limited screen time.

In conclusion, Home for Rent is a really good horror film. It is filled to the brim with a lot of spine-chilling moments and has a strong sense of relatability because it reflects the very real fear of becoming a parent in this volatile economy. I know that sounds overly pretentious, especially after I spent most of the movie white-knuckling through every scene and not thinking about the themes and messages. But the hallmark of a great movie is that it stays with you and makes you think about what lies underneath its scary veneer. I think it’s a no-brainer that Home for Rent will make for a great double feature with Evil Dead Rise. If you are feeling brave, you can turn it into a quadruple feature with Tin & Tina and Unwelcome, since all of these horror movies are about kids and houses. However, what you have read is simply my opinion. Please watch Home for Rent on Netflix, form your own opinion, and feel free to share your thoughts with us.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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