Monday, February 15, 2016

Film Review: The Gift (2015)

The Gift (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Thanks to its blend of mystery and thrills, The Gift keeps you on the edge..."

A young married couple, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn Callum (Rebecca Hall), are rattled when an enigmatic figure of Simon's past reemerges...

The Gift follows Simon and Robyn as they settle in their new home in California. While shopping with Robyn, Simon runs into Gordon "Gordo" Mosley (Joel Edgerton), an acquaintance from high school. Although he initially attempts to shrug it off, Gordon constantly visits the home while Simon is at work. He develops a friendship with Robyn. After catching him in a lie, Simon has enough and tells him to stop visiting. Unfortunately for him, Robyn continues to pry into Simon past and unravels a disturbing mystery – it is a twisted journey. The film leads to a strong climax and ending. The ending felt more like a strong hook than a haymaker, though. It still has a strong impact, but it did feel a bit underwhelming due to some of the circumstances.

The Gift is a great slow-burn psychological thriller. It takes its time to develop its characters and the mystery. It never gives too much or too little, revealing its hand a finger at a time. In turn, you get a fairly tense thriller. Thanks to its blend of mystery and thrills, The Gift keeps you on the edge through most of its runtime. It's not an action-packed, heart-pounding film, but it has plenty of suspense and a very ominous ambiance. There are even a few jump-scares; both actually startled me! Aside from some issues I had with the ending, which I refuse to spoil, I felt the pacing was also a bit off at times. There are a few scenes that could have been cut or changed to make this a more efficient beast. Still, The Gift is very effective.

I really enjoyed Jason Bateman in this role – something a little different but well-suited. Joel Edgerton is also fantastic. Rebecca Hall delivers a strong performance, too. The cast is all-around splendid. The film looks and sounds great. I liked the often subtle presence of music, and I enjoyed it more when it blared. The film is written and directed by Joel Edgerton. Although some fine-tuning in both the direction and writing could have made this perfect, Edgerton still delivers a very effective thriller with plenty of punches. He knows how to craft a scene, how to create suspense while showing you little. I look forward to seeing more from him.

Overall, The Gift is a great thriller. The film is a tense, vengeful ride with plenty of twists and turns. The ending was a little underwhelming and the pacing can be a bit too slow for its own good, but it was otherwise an entertaining and engaging experience. It is also an excellent debut for Joel Edgerton. If you love revenge thrillers and don’t mind a slow pace, The Gift is worth a purchase. It also makes a great gift for movie fans. (You get it? Gift?)

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Although it has some suggestive themes and implications, The Gift is surprisingly tame.

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