Aussie actor Joel Edgerton is proving to be a bit of a triple threat in show biz. In his latest movie, The Gift, Edgerton writes, stars in and – for the first time – directs this creepy psychological thriller that will make you think twice about getting friendly with your neighbours.
Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are your average married couple, ready to start a new life in the suburbs after Simon has landed a new job. A chance encounter at a local store sees Simon running into his old high school classmate, Gordo (Joel Edgerton), a strange, socially-awkward guy who quickly latches on to the young couple and becomes obsessed with welcoming them to the neighbourhood. But when Gordo’s housewarming “gifts” soon turn malicious, Robyn starts to wonder what might have happened in Simon’s past to make Gordo act this way, and who the true enemy might be.
As his first foray into directing, Edgerton has actually done a pretty good job. The film has a constant eeriness to it that keeps you on your toes and second guessing right down to the last scene, and there’s no doubt you’ll jump out of you skin at least once. Psychological thrillers are a hard genre to get right, and Edgerton has managed to balance the subtlety and the downright scary in the right amounts. Top this off with three talented actors at the helm, and you have the makings of a great movie, right?
Unfortunately, I just found there was something a little to over-the-top about The Gift. For the first two thirds of the film, this wasn’t as obvious, and was only really evident in the loud bursts of music that accompanied the “scariest” scenes. It’s an effect that’s over-used in so many thrillers and horrors, where I find silence to be a much more unnerving technique. But as the plot progressively got more far-fetched, the characters began acting in ways that you know is just a little bit off. It’s my belief that, while a film can have an unrealistic plot, it’s characters must always react in realistic ways in order to be convincing. But when you start to question the characters actions, you start to disengage, and in a film that’s all about being ‘gripping’, this really pulls you out of the story.
In saying this, The Gift is worthy of any scary movie night in. It’s the kind of film that makes you realize just how capable humans are of committing the cruelest of deeds – and that thought in itself is the most frightening thing of all.