The Gift tells the story of the ostensibly perfect couple Simon (Jason Bateman) Robyn (Rebecca Hall) as they move out to the idyllic suburbs with the intention of starting a family. It's implied that Robyn miscarried their first child when they were in the city, apparently due to stress, it's also implied that Robyn had a predilection towards taking prescription drugs. So this is Simon and Robyn extricating themselves from the hustle and bustle of city life, away from temptation and the opportunity to start again. Simon moved around a lot as a child, relocating to many different schools, but on a trip to the local home furnishing store, a former classmate, Gordon 'Gordo' Moseley (Joel Edgerton) recognizes Simon and reacquaints himself with Simon and introduces himself to Robyn.
Gordo seems friendly and harmless enough at first, occasionally dropping in on Robyn when Simon isn't there, but Robyn sees him as a somewhat awkward but innocent and well intentioned visitor nonetheless. It's not until an uncomfortable dinner at Gordo's house where Simon insists that Gordo stop intruding in their lives that things begin to fall apart, and this signals the progression and unraveling of longtime lies that start to inevitably boil to the surface. Gordo writes an apology letter to the couple which seems to put an end to their altercation, but one cryptic sentence stands out to Robyn that says, "I was willing to let bygones be bygones." which prompts Robyn to get to the bottom of what that means since Simon is being less than forthcoming with the truth.
I really don't want to give too much away about this thriller, but to its credit, The Gift doesn't turn into your typical obsessed and jaded home invader movie as I though it was going to. Instead, The Gift maintains its darkly psychological tone and turns the tables on Simon, causing Robyn to question how well she knows her husband's nature. After doing some digging, Robyn finds out that Simon made up some horrible rumors about Gordo back in school that effectively ruined his life.
The dilemma that The Gift presents us with is, who's worse? Simon, the cold, ruthless and narcissistic sociopath, or Gordo, the unbalanced, deranged and unhinged sociopath? Both men have sympathetic backstories, although Gordo's is fleshed out much more than Simon's, but the lines between protagonist and antagonist are deliberately blurred so completely that it's hard to decide who to root for, if anyone at all. Admittedly the scheme seemed a little too convenient and just happened to fall into place perfectly, although I wouldn't say it was predictable either, definitely unsettling. The acting was strong from everyone, Jason Bateman especially did a good job, but I wanted to see more of the sociopathic Gordo, when we're only ever given a very few brief glimpses of his underlying malice.
The Gift manages to avoid all the cliches and tropes of the genre for the most part, except for a couple of unnecessary cheap jump scares that only deflated its momentum more than they helped it along, but they're kept to a minimum. I wasn't a fan of the dated earring on Gordo, or the seeped in sepia look of Gordo either, but it all made sense in the wickedly unnervingly end. I was pleasantly surprised by the suspense and tension of The Gift and it also marks Joel Edgerton's first time directing, and he wrote it as well. So he may have a future behind the camera, as well as in front of it.
Written by - The Sentry - 29/10/2015