Joel Edgerton’s The Gift is an atmospheric mystery drama. The film suggests a promising career for Edgerton as a filmmaker.
Married couple Simon and Robyn move back to Simon’s hometown for his new job. An encounter with a former school acquaintance seems an inconsequential occurrence to the couple, but Gordo has other ideas…
The Gift is Joel Edgerton’s debut feature as a writer-director. Overall, it indicates a talent behind the screen as well as in front of the camera; Edgerton stars as Gordo in the film. Those expecting a horror movie may be disappointed by The Gift. Although there are a few jumpy moments, it is misleading to classify the film as a horror. The Gift is best considered a mystery, which develops into an engaging drama as events unfold.
The premise of The Gift may suggest the kind of unhinged stalker thriller that viewers are bound to have seen several times before. However, Edgerton eschews this option, offering a much less predictable film. The ending in particular could go a number of ways given the breadcrumbs laid out beforehand. However, it is a satisfying conclusion to proceedings.
Protagonists in The Gift are well rounded. It would have been easy for Edgerton to follow the convention of the good guys being terrorised by an unstable outsider, but The Gift does not quite work in this way. The narrative unfolds at a good pace, keeping viewers engaged throughout. The twists in the film are believable, and the film is all the better for not following a predictable path.
Joel Edgerton gives a great performance as Gordo, bringing a suitably unnerving presence to the character. It is good to see Jason Bateman in a different type of role, whilst Rebecca Hall is decent as Robyn. Camera work is good, and the house is a great location for most of the action to take place in.
The Gift will satisfy audiences as long as they are aware that the film is not a horror. It offers something more original than a horror of this theme would have.