I guess the formula for “The Gift” (2015) is pretty simple — hand a superb script to three superb actors. Here, they are Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton, and the dark drama they bring to life is driven by dialogue and unexpected character development, instead of jump scares and dark hallways and other conventional thriller conventions. (Edgerton, who I last saw as a boilerplate good guy in 2011’s “The Thing” prequel, is also the director here.) The three actors are magic together. I became uncomfortable (as was the filmmaker’s intention) even during the first apparently innocuous conversation when the three interact for the first time at a chance meeting in a department store.
In fact, I’m not sure that “The Gift” is even a thriller instead of a particularly disturbing drama. Like other viewers, I’d suggest that what filmgoers see is not what the movie’s trailer suggests. This is yet another film that reviewers can’t describe in detail for fear of spoilers.
I’d give this a 9 out of 10. My only criticisms are very mild. I think Bateman underplayed the distress his character ought to have felt in the last 10 minutes or so. Also, I found myself wanting more closure and less ambiguity in the ending, as well more of a standard climax. But that probably just reflects my expectations as a traditional horror-thriller fan, and not any real failings of the movie.