The Gift – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

the giftThe Gift – 4/5 – A thriller always are some of the hardest thing to do.  With a predictably factor to guess what is coming, a great thriller is built upon two things: characters and story.  No matter if there is a bombastic nature of action, a slow burn of drama or a terrifying aspect of suspense, a thriller that makes you see the complexion in the story  and characters is one that will leave an everlasting mark on the audience.  The Gift is that unknown indie thriller that surprises with the simplistic notion of suspense built through story and character.   A very simplistic tale of the past coming to haunt you, The Gift is one will have you on the edge of your seat till the end.

Premise: A married couple comes across an old acquaintance; that begins to inject himself into their lives.  As mysterious gifts begin to arrive, an unraveling of a lost secret will be brought to light.  When all truths become undone, what will the couple do to survive?

At the heart of this film are three characters.  You have:

Jason Bateman as Simon

Rebecca Hall as Robyn

Joel Edgerton as Gordo

These three are the main characters of the story.  Each of them brings a very simplistic dynamic that’s welcoming, endearing and flawed.  The story sheds the light of ‘humans’ stuck within a hazed complexion; one where you can’t put your finger on it very clearly.  The layering of deep characterization makes them comes across with a strong allure of ‘who is truly’ the bad guy.  This makes the characters’ unraveling so amazing to watch.  The gradual breakdown on a personal and psychological scale is both subtle and soothing.  It creates that ‘mark’ that the characters’ strength comes from the subtle havoc in each of is defined by some kind of purpose.  With the secondary characters, they play second fiddle to everything going on the film.  As much as it isn’t a deterrent from the enjoyment factor; you still realize they have no real purpose to the story.

The direction is very simple, pristine and focused on the two important things; character and the story.  As each of these two elements progress together in the film, the allure of everything that comes from these two evolves slowly.  As the film begins, we watch as Simon and Robyn decide to move back to California.  Simon has gotten a promotion, and together they want to start a new and begin a family.  Here, they have an unforeseen run in with one of Simon’s old classmates, Gordo.  As this sudden friendship rekindles, the aspects of ‘stalker-like’ elements begin to slowly trickle within the story.  From here, the suspense is built up through the dynamic of the story and characters, which unravels through a slow burn.  This film harkens back to the old style thriller directing.  There aren’t any action sequences or over-the-top twists.  All direction is based upon the interactions of the main three characters and the revelation of their history through simple storytelling.  As this happens; the commonality of the ‘psycho is bad’ and ‘family is good’ gets flipped on its head.  You soon realize that as much as a creep Gordo seems to be towards Simon and Robyn, there’s a past that seems to have built the reason of this creepy caricature.  This past begins to break down each of them in different fashion.  The slow burn allows the thrilling elements to hit strongly, with a combination of darkly tone and eerie atmosphere on general humanistic traits.  You have a sense of what is coming, but don’t see all the angles.  The best thrillers take the predictability head on and blind you with the truth.  The irony of playing simplistic themes of forgotten past with the characters brings out their psychological and personal struggles.  As the film moves along, you begin to see that the present is built from the past.  It is something that Simon, Robyn and Gordo can escape.  The one problematic thing that comes to light are some obvious plot holes and the use of the typical plot device of ‘jump scares’ to get you out of your seat.  This happens rarely in the film and gets overshadow by the great characterization of the story.  Once you move into the climax, it’s a mixture of shocking revelations and obvious results.  With a thought provoking epilogue, the lasting scenes are both emotional, human and a realization of what should matter shouldn’t have been ever ignored; the past never forgets.

The visuals are built upon the grounded aspect of the script.  As the film focuses mainly on the three characters; you are confounded to most the home and Simon’s workplace (most the time).  The aspect of ‘slow’ panorama views and ‘single object’ focus helps build tension through subtlety.  The ‘jump scare’ tactics become obvious, but it doesn’t hurt the complexion that this is a human story.   The score is far from amazing; but helps add to the allure of the film.  With deep sounds and the slow surrounding music helps build an atmospheric feeling; it helps build the mood.

The Gift is a small indie thriller that will surprise the shrewdest individual.  With a premise built off the typical ‘stalker’ thriller themes, this film will flip the script and have you on the edge of your seat.  If you’re a fan of thrillers, Indies or want to see something that will be pleasantly surprised, this is one for you.  Recommend as a good time at the theaters.

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