November 7, 2015

Blu-ray Review: The Gift (2015)
(aka Creepy Old Friend.)
Release Date: August 7th.
Country: USA
Rating: R
Written by: Joel Edgerton.
Directed by: Joel Edgerton.
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, and Rebecca Hall.

The first time we ever saw Joel Edgerton in anything was in the 2008 Australian gem, Acolytes, in which he played a creepy Serial Killer with ease, and left quite an impression on us. A few years later, he showed up in one of our favorite movies of the decade, Warrior. Both the movie and his performance blew us away, and as far as we were concerned, a star was born. The Thing, Zero Dark Thirty, The Rover (writing) and Black Mass later, it turns out that we were right; the guy's got skills.

As good of an actor as he is, it turns out that he's not bad at screenwriting and directing either. The Gift is his directorial debut, and really, it's almost too good to be anybody's first movie, especially when it's an actor turned director. 

Simon and Robyn are a successful yuppie couple who have just moved from Chicago to LA to become an even more successful yuppie couple. He's a businessman, she's a painter, and aside from not yet having a baby (they've been trying), everything seems to be going their way.

While out shopping for whatever it is that yuppies shop for, they run into Gordo; an old High School classmate of Simon's who is apparently as weird now as he was back then. Gordo tries to push his way into their lives, as if he and Simon are old friends who need to catch up, and in an effort to be a nice guy (or because his wife tells him to), Simon goes along with it, and soon they're all having awkward, odd dinners together.

Gordo sends them random gifts, including Koi for the little pond outside of their home, and Robyn thinks that it's simply a sweet gesture from an odd and awkward guy... until he starts showing up at their house unannounced, staring at her through windows, and acting all kinds of creepy in general. When their dog goes missing, Simon blames Gordo, and then everything starts to really fall apart... especially once Robyn finds out that she's pregnant.

We won't say anything else about the plot here, lest we spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that Simon's kind of a dick, Robyn is kind of in danger, and Gordo is really not right in the head.

That is all. 

The Gift is a Psychological Thriller done right. After seeing The Rover (which Joel Edgerton wrote), it was pretty clear to us that the guy has a good grasp on dramatic tension, as well as creating sympathetic characters that make us care about them, despite their actions. With The Gift, he again displays his skill at both, but somehow manages to do it even better.

This movie starts out like many typical revenge Thrillers do; with an unassuming but creepy character conveniently entering the lives of two normal, successful people who are living the upper-middle class American dream. You just know that he's up to no good, and that by the time he's done playing whatever game he's playing, everyone involved is going to be bloody, ruined, and destroyed, if not dead.

But as this movie goes along, you start to see that the good guy may not be so good, and that the creepy bad guy is far more sympathetic than you ever expected him to be. Edgerton could have gone the easy way with this movie, and just ramped-up the tension and violence, allowing it all to boil over in some sort of explosive and shocking ending, but he chose a different way; there was a point to this movie, and as creepy and intense as it was at times, it played with our emotions far more than it did scare us. Alright, maybe it was a bit more equal than that, but it definitely had an unexpected depth to it.

Joel Edgerton is one hell of an actor, and he plays creepy extremely well in this one. Equally compelling, though in completely different ways, were Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. Of the three of them, Hall's Robyn was the only decent one that we liked all the way through; Gordo went from creepy, to sympathetic & empathetic, back to creepy again; and Simon went from likable, to detestable, to sympathetic. They're all three realistic, complex, flawed, and anything but cookie-cutter ordinary, and any movie that can make you feel empathy for the villain, has done its job well in our book.

We also loved the last shot of the movie. It was fairly simple, but it was one of those moments that made us say "no shit," and want to re-watch the whole thing just to see how differently it would play.

The Gift could have been a generic, overly-familiar Thriller if not for the fact that Joel Edgerton wrote and directed the hell out of it. It plays by its own rules, and ends up being something more in the process. We really didn't expect it to be as well-made and effective as it was, and even though it wasn't A+ perfect, it sure felt like it was in a lot of ways.

Rent it or grab the Blu-ray, but either way, it's definitely worth your time to check out. 


The Gift is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

Each of these ladies is a gift unto themselves. And us.


  1. I really enjoyed this one as well (and not just because I'm an Aussie!)

    You mentioned "The Rover" a couple of times in your review - I thought it was very good but, given the quality of "Snowtown" (the director's first movie), slightly underwhelming.

    If you haven't seen Snowtown, you should: real-life horror done properly.

    1. Snowtown was great.

      I really liked the Rover because for the kind of movie that it was, it was so much better than the usual, you know? Even if it had issues. Also, Guy Pearce is frigging fantastic. I only mentioned it here because even with its faults, it was a solid movie, and we really love how Joel Edgerton is talented enough to write somthing so solid.

      There's lots fo talent down there in OZ, and we try to promote it when we can. Straya is cool with us, mate :)

  2. The other really good thing about The Rover? It proved that Robert Pattinson has much more depth/talent than the Twilight movies suggest. He took on the polar opposite of a glamour role and did damn well at it.

  3. That was a really great movie. The characters started flat as a cardboard and with every passing minute they become not only flesh out but able to emotionally sucking me in and spiting me out. Yes, I felt them.

    On a side note:
    I've never seen those Twilight movies and don't intend to do so. But The Rover was really good and this said actor was good, too.

  4. Agreed 100%, Myra.

    Yeah, the Twilight guy was really good in The Rover. Good for him rebounding liek that from Twilight lol