Review: THE GIFT

Considering Joel Edgerton acted as the director/writer/producer and star of THE GIFT, it’s safe to say that the newest Blumhouse release was sincerely presented as his vision. Bleak, unnerving, and at times, difficult to stomach, THE GIFT is a thrilling exploration of the consequences of how we treat one another.  The yuppie couple of Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have recently relocated to Los Angeles when they have a chance run in with Simon’s old high school classmate, Gordo. The scenario is relatable, as anyone who returns to their hometown can attest to experiencing, but there’s something off about Gordo. Shortly after the encounter, Gordo begins showing up unannounced and leaving random housewarming gifts on the doorstep. It quickly becomes apparent that he has overstayed his welcome and the lives of Simon and Robyn may be in jeopardy.

Edgerton’s script is a psychological rollercoaster guaranteed to throw your mind into overdrive. The subtle nuances presented between the intentions and deceptions of the characters allow this film to hit all too close to home for anyone that has ever dealt with reopening the wound of serious grudges. Edgerton’s script is solid, devoid of any glaring plot holes, and with incredible moments that allow his actors to do what they do best.

Rebecca Hall’s performance as Robyn acts as the point of view for the audience, as well as the voice of reason. While Hall has been given plenty of dynamic roles in the past, she really flexes her talents in THE GIFT and it’s baffling as to why she hasn’t become a household name. Edgerton’s performance as Gordo proves his intensity and range as a performer, manipulating the audience’s viewpoint of his character from fear to sympathy with just the changing angle of his frown.

The most fascinating performer (and arguably the most well-known of the film) is Jason Bateman. Bateman’s portrayal of Simon is everything you’ve seen before. The sharp wit from HORRIBLE BOSSES and the annoyed straight man of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is presented on a silver platter, but when Bateman isn’t being counterbalanced with a Charlie Day or Will Arnett, the devastating truth is that Bateman has been playing evil assholes for many years. Bateman gives the “can I speak to a manager” persona he always has, but this time, it’s not done for laughs.

THE GIFT is beautiful to look at, with the perfectly symmetrical glass home acting as the ultimate metaphor for the deception of Simon and Robyn’s lives. Eduard Grau’s cinematography paints a contradicting experience allowing audiences to feel claustrophobic even in a world that appears endlessly vast. Regardless of how heart-pounding moments become, we’re continually drawn in by beautiful composition and stunning camera movements.

At its core, THE GIFT is a cautionary tale about honesty, bullying, and the consequences of our past decisions. The cautionary tale quickly shifts into a revenge mode and offers the darkest Blumhouse film to date. THE GIFT is an intense thriller that wraps up with some downright painful moments. Devoid of gore or relying on cheap jump scares, Joel Edgerton has crafted a genuinely well-made psychological horror film and will solidify himself as a director worth watching.

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