The Gift is directed and written by Australian actor Joel Edgerton who also plays the part of the creepy stalker. Edgerton may not be a household face as yet but has had high-profile roles such as Owen Lars in the Star Wars prequels and has appeared in other mainstream-released films like The Thing (2011), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012), The Great Gatsby (2013), playing the Pharaoh in Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) and Black Mass (2015). Edgerton has only directed short films before, although did write the script for Felony (2013), a disturbing film in which he plays a cop covering up the fact he ran a child down, and the rather good Australian science-fiction film The Rover (2014).
The Gift no relation to the Sam Raimi clairvoyance film The Gift (2000) or the hundred or so other film the IMDB lists with the same title is a psycho-thriller. It falls fairly much into the psycho-thriller standard of the initially easygoing friend who turns into an obsessed stalker see also the likes of Single White Female (1992) and the work this most resembles, the French thriller With a Friend Like Harry/Harry, He is Here to Help (2000). Edgerton casts himself as the disturbingly stalkerish friend who is clearly not quite socially clued up from the point he is first introduced.
Edgerton sets the film up well. Jason Bateman in a rare non-comedy role is a likeable identification figure who has made a success of his life, the increasingly underrated British actress Rebecca Hall is his wife. The scenes introducing them and with Joel Edgerton inserting himself into their life come with a cool calm. This is not a film of big dramatics or even for that matter much in the way of psychological stalking and pursuit as you might expect from a psycho-thriller in this vein. That said, there are some effective jolts like when Jason Bateman returns to Joel Edgertons home to confront him.
The interesting twist that the script then gives us is that everything is not as it initially seems. We expect that Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall are the ordinary married couple whose lives are invaded by the unbalanced Edgerton. Only this is reversed part way in [PLOT SPOILERS] where it is revealed that Bateman bullied Gordo at school and essentially ruined his life with a series of lies. (Although you cannot help but wonder if that were the case, would Bateman not feel a twinge of guilt or remorse, at the very least a feeling of uncomfortableness, when Edgerton befriends him again?). The ambiguity weaves throughout, all leading to a nasty sting ending wherein the meaning of the title becomes apparent. It works fairly well although I felt that the fine and underrated Misbegotten (1997) did the same more effectively and took it much further. The Gift works okay, it is just a little mannered as psycho-thrillers go and you wish that it had been pushed for something that had more bite. You keep waiting for it to get its teeth in but it never does.
Jason Blum has produced a number of other genre films including:- Hamlet (2000), Paranormal Activity (2007) and sequels, Insidious (2010) and sequels, Tooth Fairy (2010), The Bay (2012), The Lords of Salem (2012), The River (tv series, 2012), Sinister (2012) and sequel, Dark Skies (2013), Oculus (2013), The Purge (2013) and sequels, the tv mini-series Ascension (2014), Creep (2014), Jessabelle (2014), Mercy (2014), Mockingbird (2014), Not Safe for Work (2014), Ouija (2014) and sequel, 13 Sins (2014), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), Unfriended/Cybernatural (2014), Area 51 (2015), The Boy Next Door (2015), Curve (2015), The Gallows (2015), Jem and the Holograms (2015), The Lazarus Effect (2015), Martyrs (2015), Visions (2015), The Visit (2015), The Darkness (2016), Hush (2016), Incarnate (2016), The Veil (2016), Viral (2016), Amityville: The Reawakening (2017), Get Out (2017), Happy Death Day (2017), Split (2017) and Stephanie (2017).