I love a thriller that can surprise me without resorting to a real gimmick or twist. Unless the 'twist' in The Gift is that it plays out smarter and more realistically than most thrillers. I think the real message you'll come away with from The Gift is, "Who's the real bad guy?" That's about all I can say though without spoiling anything.
This is one of Jason Bateman's more nuanced performances. You'll watch him and go, oh he's just doing another version of his Arrested Development character, but you start noticing subtle things about his behavior. I can't objectively say anything about Rebecca Hall's performance since I'm in love with her.
The real winner here is Joel Edgerton. In addition to his creepy, yet sympathetic performance, he also wrote and directed the film. I've always enjoyed his acting, especially his perfect performances in Episode II and III, but if this is the kind of stuff we can look forward to from him, then he's gonna move to my short list of favorite actors.
There are a few slightly cheap jump scares, but they work here because the film does such a good job of building tension. With each jump scare, it would be followed by a wave of relieved laughter from the audience. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap when they can get you like that.
The Gift is one of the Summer's pleasant surprises and a satisfying suspense definitely worth seeing in the theater. It also makes for a good date movie if you want to see them jump and then keep getting closer to you whenever it gets tense. You're welcome.
4 (out of 5) Death Stars