This summer has been full of horror movies that promise to be the scariest movie you’ve seen all year. Basically, every horror film to come out in 2015 has been, according to it’s trailer that you saw five times an hour, the best thing to happen to your horror loving life. These movies are so scary, you would be a fool to watch them alone because they are so mind blowingly original that not only will you sleep with the lights on, but these movies will also drive you home from the theatre and tuck you into bed. It’s no shock that by the time The Gift is unloaded on us in August, we’re beyond weary of over hyped trailers that contain very carefully chosen lines from reviews, not to mention the fact that everyone knows August is where movie studios dump their trash. At this point in the summer movie season,you’ve been utterly brainwashed by sympathetic raptors, ghosts who hate bad high school plays, animated Twinkies, comedies that try to convince you that swimming in sewage is a clever gag and Adam Sandler that it’s hard to believe there is anything of merit at the theatre. Not so fast…
Written, directed by and starring Joel Edgerton, The Gift is a well written and taut thriller that is engaging from the word go. This is not just a run of the mill story about an obsessed man. This is a true tale of revenge that never had to be. Playing Gordon, or “Gordo” to people from high school, Edgerton is absolutely mesmerizing as a man who is a bit socially awkward, but is he dangerous? Gordon happens to notice Simon, a boy he went to high school with and after saying hello, Gordon begins leaving gifts at Simon’s house and he also embarks on a curious friendship with Simon’s wife, Robyn. Initially, it really is hard to decipher if Gordon is being a true creeper or if he’s just overdoing it on trying to let things that happen in the past stay in the past.
Played by Jason Bateman, Simon is a real dick. He was a dick in high school and he’s a dick in adulthood. Outside of a few moments where I really expected a member of the Bluth family to walk on screen, Bateman outdid himself here. Simon is truly an ugly example of a human being and it’s astounding that he managed to trick such a big hearted and kind woman into marrying him. Rebecca Hall infuses Robyn with just the right balance of caution and empathy when it comes to Gordon and as the story progresses, she adjusts to the situation accordingly and becomes the woman that you always knew she was.
The Gift was a lovely present to unwrap in these dwindling days of summer and I found it to be a uniquely refreshing comment on how self centered our society has become. If you took a drink every time Simon said to Gordon, “I never asked you….” you would have to be taken to the ER for alcohol poisoning. We never ask people about themselves, we never care about other people’s misfortunes, we hate to celebrate a success unless it’s our own and, most of the time, people aren’t really listening to one another; they’re just waiting for their turn to talk. Winning at all costs, stepping on the little guy and never taking responsibility for your actions will always come back to bite you in the ass and you better hope that it’s not Simon who’s doling out your comeuppance because he has patience to spare, some mean gift wrapping skills and he’s not above sinking to your level to make you truly understand your own undoing.