REVIEW: THE GIFT
Revenge comes in an artfully wrapped package in The Gift, a chilling psychological thriller available on Blu-ray™, DVD, Digital HD and on Demand October 27, 2015, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. From STX Entertainment and Blumhouse Productions (Whiplash, The Purge) The Gift is a suspenseful and thrilling morality tale that earned a “Certified Fresh” seal on Rotten Tomatoes with a remarkable score of 93%. The Blu-ray™ and DVD are packed with chilling bonus features including a riveting alternate ending, deleted scenes, feature commentary with writer and director Joel Edgerton, and more.
SYNOPSIS: The Gift asks the question, “Can you really go through life having never wronged anyone?” Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a young married couple whose life is going as planned until a chance run-in with Simon’s high-school acquaintance sends their world into a narrowing tailspin. At first Simon doesn’t recognize Gordo (Joel Edgerton), but after a series of uninvited encounters and mysterious gifts prove troubling, a horrifying secret from the past is uncovered after more than 20 years. As Robyn learns the unsettling truth about what happened between Simon and Gordo, she is forced to contemplate: how well we really know those closest to us, and are bygones ever really bygones?
I’m sure that even to irregular watchers of film and television, this plot seems familiar and tired. Moreover, going in to this screening I’d heard comparisons being thrown around between 1987’s “Fatal Attraction” and this flick, but there is simply nothing to compare what-so-ever (not even close). As the story unfolds, I can guarantee that most viewers will have guessed the plot long before the movie’s halfway mark. Sadly, Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings, 2014) does little to alleviate the air of predictability, instead choosing to throw in a few cheap scares to keep us from falling asleep. In fact, aside from a handful of directorial flourishes during the creepy shower scene and exploring the new house sequences, “The Gift” could have come from any number of faceless Hollywood productions. Needless to say, it’s a sad day when a director decides to play a critical and sinister part in the flick and ends up guilty of underwhelming with blandness, despite his jumping in with both feet to get the job done in his vision.
There are simply very few thrills to be had in “The Gift”. Even non-genre fans will find little to frighten them, and I seriously doubt that anyone would feel their heart miss a beat at any point during the one hundred and eight minute run-time. This flick is obviously going for the standard “slow burning”, creepy atmosphere; in other words, everything about movie is like watching paint dry inside a strange house while throwing in a few suspenseful sequences like a shower scene with creepy music. Ultimately, what we end up having is something some might call a suspense-thriller, but I call it a semi-interesting thriller-wannabe.
On a more positive note, the movie benefits from a trio of sturdy lead performances. Edgerton’s character exudes both menace and fragility, keeping us guessing as to whether Gordo is unraveling or in supreme control. Jason Bateman’s (Horrible Bosses 2, 2014) character shifts seamlessly back and forth between affable charmer and sinister snake. And Rebecca Hall’s (Transcendence, 2014) character has a watchful intelligence and reserve demeanor that make her an ideal moral compass and an audience surrogate. The small supporting cast features, most notably, Allison Tolman (The Mindy Project, TV series) as a welcoming neighbor and Busy Philipps (Arrested Development, 2013) as one of Simon and Robyn’s friends.
The Gift is not to be taken too seriously; it is, above all, a decent flick, with very little new to offer movie-goers. I wouldn’t recommend a theater visit for this one, but more like a weekend DVD rental with the significant other. Three out of five are the amount of stars I’d offer here.
By Movi-Man Stan
The film is
presented in widescreen in a 2.40:1 aspect ration preserving its
theatrical format. The picture is just flawless. Not only the
picture looks great in this release, also the sound it is good,
a 5.1 Dolby Digital in English that provides a good complement
to the picture. It also includes English,
and Spanish subtitles.
Widescreen (2.40:1) 16x9
English DTS-HD Master Audio
English SDH, Spanish and French
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Karma for Bullies
The Darker Side of Jason Bateman
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director