The Gift is an excellent example of how less is more; a surprisingly simple but escalating psychological thriller.
Robyn moves into a new home with her successful husband Simon. But not long after they move they meet Gordon, a shifty but generous man who turns out to be an old school colleague of Simon’s. But when Gordon continually visits their home, leaving multiple presents at their doorway, and learning everything about them but telling nothing about himself… events take unsettling turns.
Joel Edgerton may star as Gordon “Gordo the Weirdo” but The Gift is his debut of stepping behind the camera as writer and director. For a first time director on a big project, this is exceptionally well handled; the film’s main strength is a slow, building escalation of ambiguous dread.
Edgerton’s writing is excellent too, Robyn (Rebecca Hall) is the definition of a sympathetic and open-minded individual who accepts Gordon’s initial awkwardness and kindness, while Simon (Jason Bateman) who works for a security company, is reluctant and cautious. The characters make the movie, as they should in a good psychological thriller; this isn’t a jump scare movie, or a horror movie, it is a quiet and tense experience that leaves the audience hanging on every word of both Simon and Gordon. We follow Robyn’s perspective in trying to unravel the mystery that is slowly revealing itself.
It isn’t often that you watch a film that doesn’t blow anything out of proportion, outstay its welcome or break flow. The Gift is well crafted, well paced and leads the audience on with natural ease.
It is hard to write about the film without ruining it. In fact, I only knew the barest of facts about The Gift and it already hindered the tension, so I recommend you watch this without knowing too much about it.