Knowingly playing with the audience's familiarity with the genre, Edgerton adroitly employs recognisable tropes such as shock cuts, slow pans and sinister music to ratchet-up the tension. As this taut story unfurls, the audience is led willingly down a well-trodden path of genre clichés whilst all the time blindsided to the film's true agenda as Edgerton subtly lays the foundations of a far more relatable and disturbing horror. There's something more complex bubbling below this familiar revenge narrative. Simon and Gordo's conflict may take centre stage, yet it's the invisible victimisation of Robyn that turns this rote thriller into something far more relevant. Robyn who, for reasons undisclosed, has decided not to return to work, is constantly viewed through doors of their ostentatious condominium or the misted glass of the shower, which appear like translucent walls of a domestic prison.
The dimension of Robyn's emotional abuse is cleverly suggested through intelligent framing and Eduard Grau's chillingly low-key cinematography, incarcerating her within her own home. Bateman and Edgerton's performances may steal the spotlight but throughout the film Hall traverses an astonishing range of emotions, from joy to complete psychological disintegration, her perspective of events key to understanding the film's message. In its final twist, The Gift falls back on genre conventions yet leaves the audience plenty to mull over if they wish to look beyond a simple tale of bullying. The Gift might not smash the boundaries of genre filmmaking but therein lies its appeal; a smart, well-made thriller that balances high-minded cinema with genre thrills.
Patrick Gamble | @PatrickJGamble