REVIEW — “The Gift”
“The Gift” is a surprisingly excellent thriller. While it comes off at first as a run-of-the-mill jump-scare kind of film, thanks in large part to its ties with Blumhouse Productions (“Insidious” “Paranormal Activity”), it turns into something much more. It becomes this tense psychological thriller, and it’ll make you squirm in your seat. The acting, dialogue, subject matter, tension and slow-burn finale will leave a lasting impression, and have you talking about it with others for a while.
I want to first mention how incredible of a job Joel Edgerton did. Not only did he star as ‘the creeper’ Gordo, but he also wrote, directed and produced this, his debut feature film. Hopefully he didn’t draw from personal experience, but his writing was very realistic, and the characters he created seemed all too real. Playing these character were not only him but Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman. It’s refreshing to see Bateman go outside his normal role of hilarious funny guy, and put on adult britches. He turned in a solid performance, but was easily matched by Hall, who delivered the film’s best. She was easily able to flow over a wide range of emotions, but everyone made you feel whatever their character was going through. Even the bad guy you almost feel sorry for by the very end…almost.
It’s hard to really talk about “The Gift” without ruining what makes it great, but in a nutshell it’s the story of a couple that move back to where the husband is from in order to get a fresh start in life. Something happened where they came from, and now the two are coping with it and moving on. However, they run into the husband’s old friend from high school, and creepiness ensues. There’s a lot more to the plot than this. However, it’s best you go in with only this knowledge, but you can also watch the trailer below which doesn’t spoil too much. The only thing that wasn’t working for me was some of the pacing. There’s a lean run-time already, but it felt like certain parts dragged a little longer than they should, and it makes that slow-burn to the finale all the slower.
This is the best suspense/thriller you’ll see this year (so far anyways… Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak” is around the corner), and the psychological mind-f**kery it plays on the audience by the end leaves a lasting impression. Interesting characters, important subject matter about actions having consequences (and some Bullying PSA), and a great pay-off make this one not to be missed. It’s refreshing to watch something that doesn’t have to rely on gore or jump scares to really mess with the audience. 4/5