Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Gift

*** out of ****

The Gift is Australian actor Joel Edgerton’s first venture into feature filmmaking despite years of experience in the business through performing and writing. Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman play a married couple moving into a new expensive home in the California hills and begin to receive uncomfortably awkward visits from an odd man (Edgerton) from the husband’s past.

Like the similarly titled The Guest from last year, this movie feels like an affectionate throwback to bad thrillers from the early nineties. It’s absurd and even predictable, but there’s a degree of care put into the revival of old clichés, as if there’s a meaning being expressed.

Rebecca Hall’s performance as the wife is also a strong center for the film, even if she continues to be typecast as a modern Mia Farrow of a leading lady: A good woman, slowly learning the sordid secrets of the people who surround her. 

I saw the film’s big twist coming from a mile away, but when it arrived, I was relieved that it had a little more purpose than shock value. Regardless of this movie’s formulaic nature, it’s effectively intense and very creepy.

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