The best thing about “The Gift” is the surprises that the movie presents to the audience halfway through the film.
The movie portrayed in the previews is only half the film – and the rest a (well, I won’t say pleasant, but welcome) surprise. It’s about a couple that moves into a new home in a new city because of the husband Simon’s (Jason Bateman) new job. While furniture shopping one day, the couple runs into Gordo (Joel Edgerton) who had gone to high school with Simon. After that, the couple starts getting random “gifts” from Gordo left on their front door – and one day even koi fish in their new pond. Gordo had been nothing but nice to the couple, albeit a little creepy, but Simon still hates him for some reason. Robyn (Rebecca Hall), Simon’s wife starts getting freaked about by being alone in her own home, but Simon insists that it’s nothing and that she just needs to forget about it. Time passes, Robyn is pregnant, Gordo disappears for a while then returns. It is then that Robyn realizes that her husband has something more to do with Gordo and his past – and it goes beyond sharing a classroom. The more Robyn finds out about her husband and Gordo’s past, the more isolated she becomes; the movie gradually turns into a slow-burn thriller rather than your typical scary movie about an intruder.
The movie is filmed starkly, with muted colors – and to always, always look like the characters are being watched. The film also utilizes the score with great effect. The first half of the movie is the typical “jump-out-of-seats” scary movie and then it shows its true colors with suspense and fear of who the characters are on the inside and what they’re truly capable of. From the outside, the casting of Jason Bateman, an actor we’re used to seeing in comedies and Arrested Development, seems odd (are we supposed to laugh?), but it makes more sense as the movie goes on as his somewhat brash attitude really reveals the character he’s playing. Joel Edgerton, directing and acting in this movie, does a great job of both. As an actor he does the creepy well – but as a director, he knows how to keep the plot moving and suspense building so that when the film builds to its tense finale, we’re that much more repulsed to what Gordo had done – and what Simon had done to himself.