This film scared the shit out of me!
How's that for a one line review?
I literally screamed aloud twice, gouged a good scrape in my poor girlfriend's leg whilst squeezing it for dear life, and even covered my eyes. While many of you may be calling me a name best suited for your cat, trust me, if you have NOT yet seen The Gift, then you don't know of what I speak!
Annie Wilson (Blanchett) is a small town widow raising three boys on her meager social security checks and her side "donations" as a psychic. Her clientele come to her for partly for glimpses of their future, but mostly seem to want her comfort and wisdom, especially the local mechanic Buddy (Ribisi) whose past conflicts with his abusive father lay unresolved in his mind, and Valerie (Swank) whose abusive husband Donnie (Reeves, actually ACTING here!) has made her life a living hell. When Donnie confronts Annie about her advice to his wife he threatens the life of her and her children if she ever talks to Valerie again. Meanwhile, Annie meets Wayne (Kinnear), the school's guidance councilor, to discuss her oldest son's behavioral issues. While there, she is introduced to his fiancé', Jessica (Holmes) and has a terrifying vision. When Jessica goes missing, Annie has more visions that lead to a horrifying discovery that not only threaten to tear the community apart, but could cost Annie her life in the bargain.
Sam Raimi's direction of a script co-written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson is perhaps his most critically lauded work, and for good reason. This tale of murder in a small town with a supernatural twist is handled so skillfully and with such understatement that one almost forgets this is the man who gave us the Evil Dead trilogy. That is, until the scares come in! When Raimi wants us to jump, we don't only ask how high, we measure the trail of shit we leave behind, because this man is a master of the dark shadowy art of scaring the crap out of you. Annie's visions are gruesome, terrifying, and will have you jumping at shadows in your bedroom for nights after.
Blanchett is simply a marvel here. Not only is she one of the most beautiful women in film, she is amongst the elite actors on either side of the pond, and her portrayal of the kind-hearted and conflicted Annie should have earned her the trophy that sits on Julia Robert's shelf! Giovanni Ribisi is his usual good self here as the tragic Buddy, as are Kinnear, Swank, and the revealingly naked Katie Holmes (ZOIKS!). The BIGGEST surprise here is master thespian Keanu Reeves, who is literally terrifying as the violent and unhinged Donnie Barksdale. Who would have thought that the man who perfected "whoa" could be such a commanding screen presence?! Certainly not I!
The Region One DVD from Paramount Home Video isn't exactly chock full of goodies, but we do get a brief set of interviews with the cast, a music video and the usual rigmarole that comes with the territory.
The Gift is a MANDATORY purchase for fans of classy, supernatural horror, and is guaranteed to scare the pants off of you, however, after seeing Katie Holmes' rack, that may not be an issue (ZING!)