Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut The Gift has taken the horror, and mainstream, press by storm, garnering 4-star reviews across the board. Notoriously fussy critics are comparing it to Hitchcock’s best work, while genre enthusiasts congratulate it for surprising them in ways they didn’t know they could still be surprised.
The regular Blumhouse audiences have flocked in droves to see what all the fuss is about (there’s even a Buzzfeed list, urging them to do so), clearly with the intention of being spooked by yet another haunted house. But diehard horror fans have remained curiously shy.
Here are five reasons why you should go see The Gift this weekend, if you haven’t already, in which case go again (check out our rave, 9/10 review here while you’re at it).
The hype is justified (it’s a classic in the making)
Much like It Follows, which was released earlier this year, The Gift is being lauded as one of the best horror movies of 2015. There’s an unfortunate tendency for horror fans to turn their backs on anything deemed to be too hyped up, case in point those who felt It Follows was “over-hyped”. Let’s get one thing straight: hype is all in your head. If you are affected by hype, it’s your fault, not the movie’s. Anyway, in the case of The Gift, the hype is absolutely justified. It is one of the best horror movies of the year (as is It Follows, for that matter) and a classic in the making.
The Gift is the directorial debut of Joel Edgerton, an Aussie actor known mostly for playing second fiddle to bigger names such as Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Here, he proves he has a serious, er, gift for horror, creating a painfully tense, claustrophobic atmosphere, utilising three, equally brilliant performances (including his own in one of the lead roles) and wrong-footing the audience at every single turn with a deft script (he also handled writing duties) and some clever directorial flourishes. Not bad for a first effort.
It’s something entirely different, masquerading as something familiar
Anyone who caught the trailer for The Gift will think they have the movie all figured out, before they’ve even sat down to watch it. What the marketers and, one assumes, Edgerton, have shrewdly created is a preview that seems to give everything away, as we are so used to trailers doing, but that bears only a passing resemblance to the finished product. The trailer for The Gift would have us believe it’s the typical, predictable revenge thriller we’ve seen a million times over. Once Edgerton has hooked us in with that assumption, however, the fun really starts.
It boasts the biggest shock of the summer, maybe the year
By now, you’ve probably heard that there’s a massive, very nasty surprise lurking at the end of this flick. I’m not going to spoil it here, because, trust me, it really is that good. And, as tempting as it may be to Google what the deal is, please don’t spoil this one for yourself. Go in cold, try to guess what’s coming up, fail miserably and you’ll end up loving it even more. This isn’t a shock for shock value kind of ending, it’s one that sticks in your mind afterwards, and against which every subsequent twist will be judged.
It’s genuinely scary
Lately, one of the biggest criticisms levelled at modern horror movies is that they’re just not scary anymore. Aside from the fact that that’s not really an argument, because horror movies don’t have to be scary to be successful, it doesn’t matter in this case anyway because The Gift is genuinely terrifying. The tension is built to stomach-twisting levels, misdirects are piled on top of misdirects until everything feels like a misstep and each second that passes tightens the noose around our collective necks.
There’s no gore, no violence and barely a jump scare in sight. But The Gift expertly crawls under your skin and stays there. A classic in the making, and a genuinely unique entry into the horror canon, it must be seen to be believed. So go see it now. Catch The Gift this weekend at your local multiplex and support horror!