There are some pretty diehard horror fans out there that completely refuse to watch any genre film that receives a wide release in theaters. These films are considered too ‘mainstream’ perhaps and these loyal fans automatically think the film will be some watered-down version of what could have been. I, on the other hand, like to give every film a fighting chance, especially when they look as intriguing as Joel Edgerton’s The Gift.
While shopping with his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall, The Awakening), Simon (Jason Bateman, The Switch, Horrible Bosses) is surprised to run into an old classmate who he has not seen since high school. He and Gordo (Joel Edgerton, Warrior, Black Mass) exchange numbers and part ways. As Gordo becomes increasingly more intrusive — popping up at the couple’s new home, trespassing when they are not around, etc — Simon realizes he needs to put a stop to this. Gordo is not finished, however, as he brings something to light that happened almost 20 years ago.
I really don’t remember hearing about The Gift doing too well while it had its theatrical run, but I do know that I’ve heard only good things as it’s home release drew closer. After finally watching it myself, I now know why, too! The directorial debut of actor Joel Edgerton, The Gift is a perfect example of what a thriller should be. It doesn’t have to rely on extremely explicit horror elements to grip you, but it still manages to keep you enthralled the entire time. With the help of a few jump scares, this film does one hell of a job building the suspense during its entire second and third acts.
With a cast consisting of Rebecca Hall, Jason Bateman, and Edgerton himself, it comes as no surprise that all of the performances were remarkable. Each actor does a fantastic job at creating very tense situations and the three feed off of each other extremely well throughout the film’s 108 minute runtime. I was especially pleased by Jason Bateman’s portrayal of Simon, essentially the perfect mix of successful business man and full-blown bully, as he has become pretty well-known as a ‘funny man,’ over the last decade or so. It was great to see a darker side of him and he played the role flawlessly, the true sign of a great actor.
Even more surprising than Bateman’s darker side was Joel Edgerton’s ability to create such a great film. I am always interested to see what happens when an actor jumps to the other side of the camera and more often than not, the results are pretty great. Edgerton doesn’t seem to miss a beat at all as director and writer; his script is original and unique and the story plays out extremely well on screen. The Gift is a modern tale of bullying and karma that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time with an ending that will keep you pondering even after the credits have finished rolling.
If you’re one of these horror supporters who will only watch indie flicks or straight-to-home release films, do yourself a favor and break that habit. You’re missing out on some great ‘mainstream’ films and The Gift is one of them. It is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Universal Studios, so pick up a copy today!
I give this one 4.5 sad faces out of 5.