Friday, November 13, 2015

The Gift

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  No, this isn't the Sam Raimi film also called The Gift where Katie Holmes does a nude scene.  Sorry to anyone who stumbled upon this review during their naughty Google search.

The Gift – 3 out of 5

If you would have told me five years ago that Michael Bluth and a young Owen Lars would be in a thriller together, I would have said, "How did you get into my house?"  I would then immediately apologize because that is just impolite and then I would ask you if you would like a Ginger Ale and some Nutter Butters.  Then, after we've had our snacks, I'd politely ask you again how you were able to enter my house and, after you've give me an adequate explanation, I would answer your first question and say that I don't think I could see Jason Bateman--a known funnyman--and Joel Edgerton--a legitimate acting god with amazing amounts of talent--coming together to make a suspenseful feature.  However, I would have ultimately been wrong about that but hope my hospitality would have made up for any rudeness you would have felt when I didn't believe you about the film.

Another talent you can add to Edgerton's already overflowing talent list:  Looking
creepy as fuck in this film.

Holy Shit!  There's a gift in The Gift!
Simon Callum (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are out to start a new life and move from Chicago to the suburbs of Los Angeles.  Simon has a new job and the two are hoping to start a family; however, one day, they run into a man named Gordon “Gordo” Moseley (Joel Edgerton).  Gordo is a man from Simon’s past and he immediately tries to insert himself into their lives and strike a new friendship with the couple.  Gordo is a little on the strange side and despite the fact that Robyn is trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, Simon wants Gordo gone.  When he attempts to remove the man from their lives, things start to get scary and Robyn soon learns that something traumatic happened to them when they were younger and that her husband might not be the man she thinks he is…

Pfff, that's the worst shower door steam art I've ever seen.

For Joel Edgerton’s feature film directorial debut (he directed a few shorts before—also, he wrote the film.  He was a busy bee on this film.), The Gift is fairly well put together.  Edgerton really knows how to set up some creepy scenes, build an intriguing and captivating story and his acting ability really helped make his character of Gordo unsettling but a bit sympathetic as well.  Overall, the film is well crafted and is a decent thriller but doesn’t end up being a prime example of the genre.

They play a very well-off couple.  That's because there's always money
in the banana stand.

I already stated that Edgerton is doing a great job both behind the camera and in front of it but he’s matched by some excellent performances from Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman.  Hall I’ve seen do excellently in other films but seeing Bateman do something like The Gift was completely new territory.  I’m so used to seeing him be the straight man in comedies that I was filled with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension to see him do something so drastically different.  However, he was absolutely incredible in this role and it really just showed that this man has way more talent that I ever truly realized.

Wendell Pierce is in the film, playing his contractually
obligated role of playing a detective.
The story to The Gift is simple and a prime breeding ground for some unnerving sequences.  Occasionally, the film completely succeeds with this formula and, simultaneously, did a tremendous job of making me foam at the mouth to know what exactly Simon did to Gordo to incur the man’s wrath.  However, the film is dragged down by its plot very slowly establishing itself and the main points of the story feeling like they are actively trying to stretch itself out.  Sometimes, when major plot points come into play, the reveal will be held back in order to create suspense.  Often this works to create further intrigue and it melted me into the story even more but sometimes Edgerton stretches out the reveal to painful levels and it begins to take away from the tension and suspense and starts to feel more like he’s just trying to make the story and film feel longer.  The Gift already suffers from having a story that feels like it is taking a long time to establish itself and, even worse, the suspense and thrills take even longer to really start to show up so having big reveals that will create more mystery or answer some of the film’s questions kinda/sorta makes the film boring at times.

"This note just says, 'Do You Like Me?  Check Yes or No.'  Why would
Gordo leave that?"

Visually, the film looks amazing and rich, the music used really helps craft a tone of potential terror around every corner, the performances might be the best part about it and the characters are deep and excellently written; however, the slow building story does hurt the film badly.  Ultimately, this slow build does culminate in a terrific ending and the film does do a great job of making you wonder who the true antagonist is but when you combine the slow moving plot and the fact that even though the potential for creepy sequences, the scary and unsettling parts are a bit few and far between. 

"I've made a huge mistake."

I’m not saying The Gift is a bad film—not at all.  The story is written well, the characters are interesting, the performances are incredible and the visuals are fantastic but the film moves way too slowly and that ends up hurting a lot of the intrigue the film features and the potential tension many scenes have.  So, yes, I didn’t think the film was bad.  I just thought the film was decent and serviceable.  Granted, the film ended up being different than what the trailer sold it to me as—and that’s a good thing—but the product felt sorta like it wasn’t making use of all its potential and it ended up just being a good, average film.  Finally, the film also makes me want to make sure I never, EVER, am mean to anyone ever again and even call people from my past and apologize for even the smallest of slights.


  1. Great review man. Very professional and to the point. Thank you for taking my request.

    1. Thanks! I already planned to get to this one because how can someone pass up Jason Bateman in a thriller?


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