Wow. I did not see that coming. That’s really all I had to say as the events in “The Gift” played out in front of me. What very easily could have been just another revenge yarn gets a bit of a twist and turns things around on the audience.
When married couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) unexpectedly encounter Gordo (Joel Edgerton), an acquaintance from Simon’s past, little do they know that their perfect lives will be thrown into a terrifying tailspin. At first, Simon doesn’t recognize Gordo, but after a troubling series of uninvited encounters and mysterious gifts, a horrifying secret emerges. As Robyn learns what really happened between Simon and Gordo, she begins to question how well she knows her spouse in “The Gift.”
As a sci-fi and horror junkie, I knew Joel Edgerton from two movies. He portrayed Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen Lars as a young man in “Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” The other role was as the hero Sam Carter in the prequel “The Thing.” Until doing research for “The Gift,” I had no idea he was already an established screenwriter.
Edgerton proves he’s got what it takes to not only craft a tale worthy of putting in front of a camera, but hopping behind it and visually bringing a film to life. Add to that the talent to play the main antagonist with an exuberance that makes the audience both fear and have sympathy for his character at the same time.
Every character in “The Gift” is written with such care and thought that you genuinely like and hate each one as they’re fleshed out in front of you. Much of that has to do with the effort each actor puts into their performance. Jason Bateman gives us even more proof that he’s capable of so much more than what we see in comedies like “Horrible Bosses,” “Identity Thief,” and the likes.
“The Gift” is rated R for violence, language, alcohol drinking, adult situations, and frightening and intense scenes. A rape and molestation is suggested, but we never see anything onscreen. The subject of bullying is a major plot device in the film as well.
Produce Jason Blum even gets some found footage inserted into “The Gift.” What would a Blumhouse Production be without some type of home video or surveillance shots? It’s actually used quite effectively within the framework of the storyline here.
The DVD edition of “The Gift” contains some informative bonus material. Feature Commentary is provided by Writer / Director Joel Edgerton. He also offers optional introductions for an alternate ending and deleted scenes. Two featurettes entitled “Karma for Bullies” and “The Darker Side of Jason Bateman” dig deeper into the making of “The Gift.” Trailers round out the special features.
Writer / Director Joel Edgerton has a long and successful road ahead of him if he keeps up doing what he did with “The Gift.” The film is a suspenseful foray into the darkness of humanity. It’s also a parable that delves into the lasting impacts our negative actions can have on people long after we’ve moved on.
“The Gift” is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.