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Summary / Analysis
Times of India
Simon (Bateman) and Robyn (Hall) are a young, well-to-do couple who move from Chicago to Los Angeles after Simon lands a fancy job there. Simon and Robyn's lives begin to change, ever so gradually, after a chance encounter with Simon's high school acquaintance Gordo (Edgerton) in a store one day. Gordo becomes overly-friendly and showers the couple with gifts. Behind all the gift-giving though, is the memory of a horrifying past incident that manifests itself in the present day.
You get the feeling that you're in for a treat right from the first few frames of The Gift. Aided by Eduard Grau's stunning cinematography (Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans' chilling music score is superb too), Edgerton - who has also scripted the film - ratchets up the intensity with Hitchcockian skill.
Simon and Robyn move into their plush new home and are quick to settle into the neighborhood. Gordo makes his way into their lives with regular visits, and of course, a succession of gift-wrapped goodies. And yet, it's pretty obvious by his demeanor that something is not quite right. It's enough to make Simon deeply suspicious of Gordo's motives. Does he want to seduce Robyn? Or is he some kind of psychopath? Simon makes no attempt to hide his hostility towards Gordo. Robyn though, is less cynical about Gordo and his generosity. She, in fact, begins to get curious about why Simon is so agitated about Gordo.
Bateman, Hall and Edgerton are in a word, fantastic. Cliches are studiously avoided in this bone-chilling little gem of a thriller. Instead, the goosebumps are provided by the twists, red herrings and a sense of unsettling uncertainty that is constant throughout. "The past is not done with you," Gordo cautions Simon in one scene. That neatly encapsulates the essence of the movie, as it simmers to a boiling climax. The Gift is uniformly intense without being heavy. Not for one second does it drag. If you enjoy psych-thrillers, there will be plenty to think about long after the end credits have rolled. Do not miss this one.
Edgerton filmed his own scenes and completed then in seven days.
First theatrical release for distributor STX Entertainment
He is initially kind to the couple but Simon feels uncomfortable since he remembers Gordo as "Gordo the Weirdo" from high school. When he drops by one morning, Robyn invites Gordo in and shows him around their new home, including a spare room for a child that Robyn miscarried back in Chicago. The following night, Gordo invites Simon and Robyn to dinner at his large and elegant home. Minutes after they arrive, he receives a mysterious phone call from "work" and leaves suddenly, giving the couple time to mock Gordo and explore the house. They find a closet full of women's clothes and a children's bedroom, despite Gordo telling them he doesn't have a family. When he returns and Simon confronts him, Gordo tells them it was actually his wife on the phone; she has recently divorced him and taken off with both his children. Simon finds his story misleading and he tells Robyn to wait in the car while he ends their friendship.
The next day, Robyn returns home from a run to find the fish in the pond are dead and their dog missing. Simon immediately suspects Gordo and drives to his house to confront him, only to find out that it was not Gordo's home. They involve the police, who tell them that without evidence, the most they can do is question Gordo and doing so would tip him off about their suspicions. In the days that follow while working from home, Robyn begins to suspect that she is not alone in the house after hearing noises and finding the kitchen tap turned on. She also has trouble sleeping and takes some stolen prescription pills that she hides from Simon. One morning, she becomes so frightened that she collapses. Simon finds the hidden pills and questions Robyn about them, thinking that she has relapsed and is taking drugs again, as she had when they were in Chicago to ease her grief. They argue and Robyn is hurt that he doesn't believe she is being watched by Gordo and believes instead that it is all in her head.
Simon is rewarded with a promotion as his one competitor for the job, Danny McDonald (P.J. Byrne), was disqualified after some troubling information is revealed from Danny's previous job. Back at home, the couple's dog unexpectedly returns one night and Simon believes Gordo is messing with them. They then receive a letter from Gordo stating that he is sorry to have bothered them and writes that he was willing to "let bygones be bygones", which is directed at Simon. Robyn questions what he means by it but Simon acts baffled by the statement. Time passes and they learn to move on, during which time Robyn reveals that she is pregnant again. However, Robyn is still troubled by Gordo's last letter and wants to know what "bygones" Gordo was referring to.
At her baby shower, Robyn asks Simon's sister about Gordo, who reveals that in high school, Simon and his old best friend Greg (David Denman) found Gordo being molested by an older student in a parking lot and reported it, which allegedly "outed" Gordo as being gay. Robyn tracks down Greg, now a chiropractor in the city, and asks him about it. He quickly becomes distraught and reluctantly reveals that Simon fabricated the whole story just "because he could", since he was a popular kid and a bully with a "real mean streak". Neither of them came forward to tell the truth and, as a result, Gordo's father nearly killed him because he believed Gordo was gay. Robyn searches Simon's home office while he's away on a golfing trip and discovers that he has run background checks on both Gordo and Danny McDonald. She confronts Simon about the story but he refuses to apologize for his part in it, which alarms Robyn, and she tells him he is still a bully.
Eventually, Robyn begins feeling even more stressed and depressed, and tells Simon that she needs him to make peace with Gordo, which he accepts. That night, Simon goes to a bar where Gordo is serving as host for a quiz night and has a few drinks while he waits for him to finish. He then finds Gordo in the parking lot and attempts to apologize, but Gordo doesn't accept, telling Simon "you may be done with the past, but the past isn't done with you." Furious, Simon viciously attacks Gordo.
A few days later, Simon is hosting a party at their house to celebrate his promotion with some of his friends and colleagues, when someone throws a rock through their living room window. Simon initially believes it to be Gordo but it turns out to be Danny McDonald, Simon's competition for the promotion. He curses at Simon claiming to have seen an email that Simon sent, fabricating all of the information that disqualified him for the promotion and led to him getting fired. Overhearing all of the excitement, Robyn goes into labor. The next morning after a successful delivery of a baby boy, Simon gets a phone call from work, informing him that they know he lied to get the job over Danny and that he is fired because of it. Robyn then tells Simon that she does not want to go back to their house with him, indicating that she wants to separate after the recent events.
Simon goes home to take a shower where he finds another gift from Gordo at their door. It is a baby cradle with three separately wrapped gifts inside it, numbered 1, 2 and 3. The first contains a house key, which unlocks their front door, the second is an audio CD, which had recorded Simon mocking Gordo while he had left to speak on the phone at his dinner party weeks before. And the third is a DVD, which shows various clips of footage of Robyn and Simon eating dinner and sleeping in their home. It also shows Robyn collapsing while home alone, and Gordo taking her into the bedroom and stroking her unconscious body. The footage abruptly ends, leaving it ambiguous as to whether Gordo raped Robyn. While this is happening, Gordo visits Robyn in the hospital to bring her flowers. She wakes and asks if his injuries came from Simon. Gordo tells her that people will get what they deserve and leaves suddenly.
Simon rushes back to the hospital and sees Gordo getting on the elevator. He tries to chase him down but loses him. Gordo then calls Simon while watching him through a window, and Simon demands to know if Gordo raped Robyn and wonders if the baby is his. Gordo taunts and refuses to confirm or deny this. Simon rushes back in to look at his baby but can't get a close look; Robyn looks at him with disdain and Simon begins to start weeping on the hospital floor, his life ruined. Gordo watches Simon crumbling before turning to leave the hospital, taking off his arm sling, suggesting that his actions had been entirely calculated.