Behind the ambiguous title, The Gift hides a very engaging thriller with an awesome cast. Directed, written, produced, and starring Joel Edgerton, the original title was Weirdo. However, it was deemed to be too straight-forward. I still think they could’ve come up with something better as this one is misleading. Also, there are already a couple movies with the same title like The Gift released in 2000 and starring Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves and Katie Holmes. Nevertheless, that’s just the title, everything else is excellent. This is a psychological thriller almost bordering on horror with an increasingly intense atmosphere. I found the opening thirty minutes a bit tedious and dull, ultimately saved by sleek cinematography and performances. Quick cuts and creative camera angles make all the difference.
Firstly, I had an immediate dislike of these characters. Typical rich assholes moving into a typical rich assholes house with typically rich asshole problems. All they needed were a couple of typically rich asshole kids to top it off. Luckily, the story starts heating up just at the right time. And even though I was quite irritated by the intro, I was mesmerized by the rest of it. Just stick with it, because it will pay off. The story is smart and authentic with realistic characters. I don’t want to get into details because it might spoil your viewing pleasure.
Simon and Robyn Callem just moved from cold Chicago to a sunny Los Angeles neighborhood. As they were buying some supplies, Simon runs into Gordon, his old friend living nearby. The two of them went to the same high-school and they exchange numbers promising to keep in touch. The next thing you know and a bottle of wine appears on their doorstep. On an attached note, Gordon sends his regards. This will the first in a series of presents they will find waiting for them as they start getting more and more worried.
The star of The Gift is without a doubt, Jason Bateman. Watching a movie with him feels like you’re watching just another episode of your favorite tv show. This might his best movie so far. Rebecca Hall and Edgerton were also great. The script was cleverly written with a lot of twists that never feel cliched. The atmosphere switches effortlessly from awkward to suspenseful. And sometimes even to unsettling. The ending was satisfying and they didn’t fuck it up, which could’ve easily happened. Still, after an intense middle section, I was expecting something else. Finally, this should not in any way influence your decision to watch The Gift. It’s one of those movies flying under the radar, so be sure to check it out.
If you’re looking for similar movies here are a couple: One Hour Photo, The Perfect Host, Sleep Tight. You can always go for classics like Cape Fear or Fatal Attraction. And you might want to wind down with something, for which The Cable Guy is perfect.
Director: Joel Edgerton
Writer: Joel Edgerton
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman, Tim Griffin, Busy Philipps, Adam Lazarre-White, Beau Knapp, Wendell Pierce
Fun Facts: As he wanted to focus on directing, Joel Edgerton filmed his own scenes as Gordo after two weeks of shooting and completed them in seven days.