The Gift kind of came out of nowhere. I had heard about it, but until it opened I was figuring on a not particularly good movie. But it’s actually a smart, subversive thriller, well-made, well-acted, well-written and absolutely welcome. It seems the intelligent, really good thriller is kind of disappearing, but Edgerton brings it back beautifully here. The main cast is perfect. Edgerton, an actor I’ve had a troubled relationship with, is perfect down to the details as the creepy ex-classmate. Rebecca Hall is maybe career best here as the disturbed wife. But Jason Bateman is the real revelation. I think this is definitely his best performance, a layered, ambiguous, infuriating performance. The film carefully sets him up as the victim, but as the film goes on, you come to realize that he’s such an absolute jerk, a condescending, arrogant jerk, that you’re in the dilemma the movie is after, which is that you kind of feel like sympathizing with the villain. There are some good plot twists, which I’ll leave alone; the movie is more than the trailer makes it out to be, I’ll say that. Edgerton is great at building suspense; the sequence in Gordo’s house is taut and kind of terrifying. And the jump scares are fantastic; I won’t mention the two really good ones, of course, but, eh, prepare to soil yourself. Anyway, it’s a really smart movie with fully realized characters, a great atmosphere of mounting tension and mystery, minimal taut direction and some really great performances. And, as it explores things like the past and the way bad things can be a gift (or a curse), the film is surprisingly thematic and grimly so. Can’t wait to see what Edgerton does next. Because this movie? It’s a . . . well, you know. 4 stars.
tl;dr – smart thriller boasts great performances and a great script; featuring real scares, real suspense and real surprises, it’s a great calling card for everyone involved. 4 stars.