"The Gift" is directed, written, and starred in by Joel Edgerton, alongside Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall in the lead roles. This is a film which I saw advertised at most of the films I've gone to this summer so, as one would think, I was looking for lots of the scenes from the trailer to pop up. While this was a little distracting at times, knowing that a certain situation was due to happen, the film is well-acted and delivers a nice sense of tension throughout its slowly unraveling story.
The film focuses primarily on Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall's characters, a married couple who move into a new home due to Bateman's new job. Very soon after, Simon (Bateman) meets up with past-classmate Gordo (Edgerton) and the level of suspense heightens from that point onward. Edgerton did a very good job at making himself act creepy while also sincere and innocent of his own actions. The film does a nice job at showing us Simon and Robyn (Hall) build up this twisted version of Gordo as their relationship with him evolves and strange situations begin to present themselves.
Surprisingly, the film uses jump scares quite effectively. As many critics have said, jump scares are one of the cheapest ways to scare and audience since one would just need loud noises at unexpected times. "The Gift" builds up the tension and actually gives a physical reason to jump from the unexpected fright. I think the reason that this works so well is because the film is something of a reflection of the human psyche, in that the characters of Simon and Robyn building up Gordo as a potential threat in their minds is something people tend to do with their day-to-day lives subconsciously, thus the relatability of the scenes with the jump scares.
Music is also an asset which is used to great effect in this film. The first half an hour or so seemed devoid of any background music, giving scenes a very real and suspenseful feel to them. As a result, once music is re-introduced to the film, its effects are felt to a higher degree than if it had been present from the start.
But the ending is probably my favorite part as it has a twist which is both sickening, yet filled with a sense that justice has been done for one of the main characters. By the end of the film, the lines are so blurred as to who is the true "villain" of the film and who is its hero that it left me wondering whether or not to cheer the conclusion or mourn it. I love when films are able to capture this effect, as it truly builds on the idea that there are two sides to every story, and nobody is the villain in their own tale.
While it is a touch slow to start, "The Gift" is a fantastic film. The leads all act very well, allowing for scenes to really feel realistic and like there is something at risk at every turn. This is a film worthy of being called "fantastic," unlike another film which was released this weekend as well.
But those are my thoughts. Let me know yours in the comments below!
Watch my video review of "The Gift" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ2l5KPN95M