Hey there gang, welcome to day 7 of my little #31DaysOfHorror. I am feeling substantially less bitter today after my little encounter with The Vatican Tapes. Anyways, another day another movie, and this time it’s The Gift.
A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of anything Jason Bateman has ever done outside of Arrested Development. I always find him pretty crass and unlikable in most of the roles that he is in, and I guess that’s usually the point, but he just always rubs me the wrong way. That said, those particular characteristics kind of served him in this movie.
This was the directorial debut of actor Joel Edgerton (Warrior), and I’ve gotta give him some credit, he pulled this one off pretty well, he wrote and directed this one, and it really feels like a throwback thriller that would have been perfectly in line with the “single white female” type movies of the 1990s. It all feels quite real and grounded, in a weird way, and that really works in the movie’s favour. Edgerton did a pretty good job here, so I’m happy to give credit where credit is due.
Jason Bateman is wholly unlikable by the end of the movie, and not in the usual way where I just can’t stand his performance, but in a way that is really brought through from his character. The movie does try and give him back some redemption, sort of, but at that point it was just too late. Edgerton, as well as writing and directing, also plays Gordo in this movie, and does a pretty dynamite job. He has a real air of menace, from moment one, and I think that’s really the point. It feels a lot like you know exactly where his character is going to go, and makes you feel like clearly there is a good and a bad guy in this. Thankfully, it offers an interesting twist on the standard idea.
I know what you’re thinking : “Wait, Barley, did you actually like a movie?”, and yeah I think I finally did. It’s not perfect by any means, there are some issues I took with the story. I found the underlying bullying message a little heavy-handed at times, but not enough that I would write this movie off. There’s a scene with David Denman (The Office) that I pretty well could have completely done without, but that’s me. It’s pretty effective and pulls you in, and makes you wonder who it is that you’re supposed to root for.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know I enjoyed the movie as much as I did until I started writing this review, and it’s possible that I enjoyed it more because of how wretched the last few movies I’ve seen were, but I’m not complaining. The other nice thing about this is that it doesn’t try to be the “NEWEST AND MOST EXTREEEEME” horror movie around. It plays things really simply, it is effectively tense when it needs to be, the dude doesn’t murder the dog, it just works for me on that level. Rather than trying to outdo the last guy, this one plays it pretty safe and it works. Now, that’s not to say that safer is better by any means, but its nice to see a bigger horror movie not trying to measure its dick against the last one.
If you haven’t guessed yet, the movie works and you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s an easy watch and a pretty short watch. Well acted, well directed, and has its genuinely creepy moments. All the while, it takes a pretty standard format, and turns it on its head enough to make it interesting. Check it out.