In every high school there was someone who was unmercifully picked on every day for four miserable years. You know it, and you either WERE the person being picked on or you feel like crap now because you know how out of line you were when you were an idiot teenager. Sometimes you get a chance to apologize years later. Sometimes you hear that person came to a sad end (happened to me). However, if you were the person who got picked on in high school, Joel Edgerton has made a dream movie come true for you in The Gift. For the rest of us, it’s eerily guilty psychological horror.
Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play a couple relocating to Bateman’s old home to start new careers and , hopefully, a family. Soon after moving in, they run into Gordo (Edgerton) an old friend of Bateman’s from high school. A chance encounter in a store leads to some welcome to the neighborhood gifts and then to an extremely awkward series of dinner parties at which you get more and more of a feeling that something extremely horrid took place back in high school that Bateman claims to know nothing about, Hall becomes increasingly suspicious of the man she’s married to and Gordo keeps up the friendship pressure until Bateman tells him they don’t want him around anymore. However that doesn’t stop the “gifts” from coming.
This film was written and directed by actor Joel Edgerton and earned him a DGA nod for emerging directorial talent. The Gift is a slow, uncomfortable burn toward an ending you KNOW is going to go badly but-trust me-you’re really not prepared for it. I’ll be interested in seeing how Edgerton’s directorial efforts go in the future, but if you thought the trailer promised just a pedestrian horror filck, this is operating on a much higher level. This is truly well-done pyschological terror built up slowly to a harrowing end.