Blumhouse Productions have been pretty hit and miss over the years but it is safe to say that they are the dominating force in horror. The Gift falls more into the thriller genre but it is clear to see that this is a Blumhouse movie, you can decide for yourself if that is a good thing or not. What intrigued me most was that cast member Joel Edgerton both wrote and directed the film, making this his debut in the directors chair.
Edgerton hits it out of the park with The Gift with every aspect, he acts, writes and directs with much talent. The whole cast do tremendously though. I don’t think I’ve seen funny man Jason Bateman in a serious role before but he does great here as one of the main characters, he effortlessly sheds his funny bones for this outing and I’d love to see him in more like this. Rebecca Hall has been in quite a few disappointing films in recent years which is a shame as she is a talented actress, proved by her involvement in 2011 horror movie The Awakening. Thankfully its a return to form with her inclusion here as The Gift is a great movie, massively helped by Hall’s performance as the character that we always empathise with most. Edgerton plays his role brilliantly, the audience never quite know what he is up to or who to believe as his fills this role with such mystery and intrigue, definitely a fruit of him writing the movie too as you get the impression that he really understands the character. These actors play their roles in a film that looks great, whether its a nighttime landscape shot of California or a sequence of Hall’s character running the film always is easy one the eyes and is filmed in an engaging way.
The setting of the film also lends itself well to the atmosphere being very clever in where most of the action takes place. The couples new house is open plan and full of massive windows, of course they don’t like to pull the curtains at night either. This all contributed to the overwhelming tension throughout. This tension existed for the majority of the film and there was little let up, exactly what you want from a film in this genre. As this is a Blumhouse movie there was plenty of jump scares, I do like these though, they add to the tension and can be a bit of fun as well. As long as the film has more to offer than just jump scares I think there inclusion can enhance the film and that was the case with The Gift. The film shifts from thriller to mystery around the three quarters mark, this made for a nice change of tone and it kept the viewers attention. With this shift in tone did come a slight dip in momentum though however, just as begins to become an issue it picks up again as the finale to The Gift is fantastic. I loved the creativity and intelligence of the ending I just wish it was cut a little bit shorter as I felt it went on longer than it needed to maybe losing some of the impact that it had, albeit that is a minor complaint as the finale’s strength is in its writing which is superb.
As I reviewed True Story a few weeks ago I discussed the lack of good thrillers in recent years, if True Story was a breath of fresh air than The Gift may as well be a relative hurricane as its the best thriller I’ve seen since Prisoners. The entire cast perform well, the tension is present in a consistent and effective way and the writing for the film means that this movie will grip you long after the credits role.
Rating – 9/10