The Cinematic Equivalent to Radiohead’s “Creep” – The Gift (2015)

The importance of home security.  So this is about a husband (Jason Bateman) who through random happenstance runs into an old high school acquaintance, Gordo (Joel Edgerton).  Gordo sends a gift to their new home, so they have to thank him accordingly, but then things start to escalate as he continues to surprise them with more and more unexpected presents.  This was one that I was actually going to skip; it’s a Blumhouse production, and everything about the trailers just said “trashy” to me.  But lo and behold, positive review after positive review came in, so I had to take my wife to check it out.  It isn’t really what I was expecting, but it is something that I enjoyed.

Jason BatemanThe previews just screamed cheap suburban thriller, but it’s far better than that.

Jason Bateman doesn’t have the best track record with films; he was great in Arrested Development, but that is a television series.  With the exception of the first Horrible Bosses and Bad Words, you have films that range from lackluster (Couples Retreat) to offensively bad (Identity Thief).  This is a nice change of pace, as this is in no way a comedy, but he is not playing a huge departure of the characters that he typically plays; he’s an actor that seemingly always gets typecast, but it would be different if he actually played characters that weren’t interchangeable with one another.  It always makes your job easier if you have somebody to play off of, and helping the cause is Joel Edgerton, pulling triple duty by acting in the most interesting role as Gordo, writing the script, and helming the director’s chair.   It’s a tall order to fill, and he pulls it off, adding all the right touches in all the right places.

joelHe does not hold back on making this character come across as being the most awkward person in the room.

Even early on, you can tell that there’s something off, as there are red flags popping up all over the place as he is escalating.  Gordo has the habit of just popping up at this couple’s home, and because of that, you’re always watching the background, never feeling wholly safe.  It’s also beautifully awkward as well; whenever there is any interaction with Gordo, it’s very uncomfortable because he is just that socially inept.  The film holds your attention firmly because you can tell that there is a lot brewing just underneath the surface.  What really is the cherry on top here is the conclusion; I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s just say that it is cathartic, and it has a good message to boot.  The Gift is a big surprise, and deserves the good word of mouth that it has been receiving.

The Gift (2015) ****

– Critic for Hire

Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015?  See for yourself here.


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