He hits all your standard beats and provides pretty much every ingredient you need for a taut horror-thriller, then starts to turn the screw just a little bit more. The subtext-laden conversations early in the film between the couple and the not-quite-yet intruder are almost unbearably tense, and Simon's impatient dressing down of Gordo, unnerving as he can be, feels almost cruel in its directness.
It's here Edgerton starts to play around with his neat narrative blueprint. When Robyn asks what that could possibly mean, Simon feigns ignorance. All three actors work overtime to imbue the seedy Gift with more sincerity than we've come to expect from a low-budget scary movie. Bateman's work, especially, becomes more and more impressive as the film wears on.
Those "bygones" turn out to be plenty significant, and while never sympathetic, Simon slowly transitions into more of an active villain than Gordo, whose motivations become clearer, and darker, and then even darker. In lesser movies, threats lurk in the shadows, behind corners. Here, when the house has neither, Robyn is on display. Her vulnerability and her husband's increasing shiftiness lead to something of a breakdown for Robyn, and the film's final, nastiest twist.
The Gift is a smart, terrifying film about cruelty and the sins of the past. By the time the film's over, it's unclear who deserved what outcome, who "wins. We just get to watch the terrible, inevitable fallout. By Tom Philip. Sections of this page. Accessibility Help.
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