A good thriller should creep up on you. It doesn’t have to be filled with violence but a level of suspense refusing to surrender. Those from famed director Alfred Hitchcock such as ‘Psycho’ and ‘North by Northwest’ still linger in the memory. ‘The Gift’ deftly borrows from Hitchcock’s malevolent handbook. Full of tension and sinister occurrences, ‘The Gift’ has a low-key feel hiding a dark, terrifying heart.
Married couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are starting a new life. Moving into a new house and job, they look forward to the future. Dark clouds gather when Simon unexpectedly meets old school acquaintance Gordon (Joel Edgerton) who carries secrets threatening to unravel their lives. As Gordon slowly integrates himself into their existence, the past’s deadly spectre looms large like a voice from the grave.
An unsettling and atmospheric piece, ‘The Gift’ is an excellent thriller. Delivering on its promise of an intense physiological mystery, all credit goes to writer, director and star Edgerton. Careful to never over-reach the clichés his creepy character could have shown, his under-stated performance intrigues. Crafting a compelling narrative and authentic scares from his taut screenplay, Edgerton ensures audiences are kept guessing. Predictability isn’t something ‘The Gift’ has, discarding the conventions of the genre in a twist-driven tale leading to a shocking finale.
It isn’t all Edgerton’s show as Bateman and Hall deliver very strong performances. You are never quite sure where their characters will end up, with the actors embracing the script’s complexities. Their paranoia at Gordon’s activities is understandable although the slowly emerging secrets make for delicious viewing. Just when the story goes one way it ends up elsewhere, with just one element changing things. This marks ‘The Gift’ as one of the smarter and adventurous films made recently.
Anyone looking for a well-made thriller can look no further than ‘The Gift’. Captivating from its first frame, it marks Edgerton’s directorial debut a success with his future endeavours eagerly awaited.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 9
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.