The Gift

(M) Starring Jason Bateman, Joel Edgerton and Rebecca Hall

The Gift is a psychological thriller directed by Joel Edgerton. The film carries a single and powerful message – ‘the past will be your present.’ Edgerton has put together an extremely powerful cast (including himself – talk about good references), and tied it together with a terrifying realistic and original storyline. You are left clutching to your chest in some parts, but mostly just reeling from the maddening effects it will have on you. Note: do not watch in a dark house alone. I learnt my lesson the hard way.

Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a young married who have just moved to California from Chicago. When in town buying supplies for their new home, Simon runs into one of his old high school class mates, Gordo (Joel Edgerton). At first Simon can’t remember much about this old acquaintance, but after a few uncomfortable home drop-ins, random gift deliveries and dinners, Simon starts to remember they weren’t so close to begin with.

The Gift is a psychological thriller, but it has tackled the theme in a completely different format to most in its genre. It is not the kind of “LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU”, cowering–behind-a–blanket-listening-out-for-creaks-in-the-house kind of thriller, but the kind that makes you seriously uncomfortable and uneasy (with intermittent moments of near heart attacks). The Gift messes with your mind, and allows you to sit back and let the paranoia set in. It was a clever tactic by Edgerton – you are scared and fearful, without blood, gore, or knowing what is about to happen to the main characters. You are left guessing up until he very last second (just like Simon and Robyn) which makes you feel personally affected by the outcome. It left me still thinking about the film days later.

The twist of The Gift is uncomfortable, but it’s extremely compelling in its message to the audience – an idea, no matter how small it seems, can become more powerful than ever expected. This is reinforced by the spectacular acting of Jason Bateman, a far cry from his days as Michael Bluth on Arrested Development – alluding to his full potential as an actor outside of comedy. Joel Edgerton’s depiction of an obsessive and revengeful stalker was so believable you feared for his real-life friends and family.

If there is anything to fault in this film, it would only be the duration. It started strong, wavered in the middle (with not a lot of thrills), and then finished with a shocking, rapid crescendo of fear. The ending is truly the saving grace of this film – days after watching it, I still get goose bumps now thinking about the film.  Specifically Joel Edgerton. Seriously… lock your doors and windows people!

Looking Deeper

What does the Bible say about fear? (Philippians 4:13)

What does the Bible say about revenge? (Romans 12:17-21)

Toya Carter


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